Nothing lazy about the hazy, crazy days of summer in Eastern Iowa. Festivals are popping up all over, offering the proverbial something for everyone.
Think we’re kidding? Just look at the following list. From fairy tales and Shakespeare to Hoover’s Hometown Days and the grand reopening of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, summer is just one long season of celebration.
This is just a sampling. So many area towns offer a taste of old-fashioned fun through festivals old and new. Parade your patriotism at the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival or slurp up sauerkraut in Lisbon and go hog-wild in Hiawatha. Decorah lays out a smorgasbord of Nordic fun, while Amana rings in fall with Oktoberfest.
Look to the stars and all that jazz all through Iowa City’s Summer of the Arts. Look even higher and you’ll see fireworks sizzling at festivals far and wide. And of course, the sky’s the limit for TrekFest in Riverside, where aliens and humans explore space, the final frontier, just one weekend after the wild Wild West Weekend at Ushers Ferry Historic Village in Cedar Rapids.
So grab your planners, head ’em up and move ’em out all summer long.
— Diana Nollen
RiverFest, Iowa City – Through April 29; Music, comedy, movies, 5K, 10K, Zombie Prom, Riverbank Art Fair, University of Iowa campus, Iowa Memorial Union. Riverfest.uiowa.edu
Chalk the Walk, Mount Vernon – May 5 and 6: Madonnari Festival; juried and public chalk drawings on downtown streets. Visitmvl.com
Benz Beer Fest, Cedar Rapids – May 12: 1 to 5 p.m. outdoors, Benz, 501 Seventh Ave. SE. More than 100 brews from around the world, music, guest brewmasters. $15 advance, $20 door. American Heart Association benefit. Benzbeveragedepot.com
Houby Days, Cedar Rapids – May 18 to 20: Czech Village. Czech food, music, may pole dancing, 1 p.m. parade Saturday, puppet show, folk dance festival. Ncsml.org
Marion Arts Festival – May 19: City Square Park, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Juried art exhibits, 5K and half marathon, demonstrations, art activities.
North Liberty Blues & BBQ – May 26: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Liberty Centre, Penn Street and Liberty Way, music, food, games; free admission.
Iowa Renaissance Festival, Middle Amana – May 26 to 28: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Middle Amana Park. Historical re-enactments, jousting, entertainment, merchants, food. Admission: $10 adults, $6 children. Iowarenfest.com
Iowa Arts Festival, Iowa City – June 1 to 3: Downtown Iowa City. 120 local and national artists, Pieta Brown, Greg Brown, Joy Kills Sorrow, Los Lobos, music, entertainment, kids’ activities, foods. Summerofthearts.org
Marion Bar-B-Que Rendezvous – June 2: Noon to 9 p.m., Marion Square Park; food, music. Uptownmarion.com/calendar.html
North Liberty Fun Days – June 7 to 10: Penn Meadows Park. Carnival rides, music, car show, truck pull.
KHAK’s 50th Birthday Bash, Cedar Rapids – June 9: 1 p.m., downtown near May’s Island, featuring Alan Jackson with Joe Nichols, Phil Vassar, Steve Holy, Craig Campbell, local Battle of the Bands winner; $40 to $125, (515) 657-6128.
Grant Wood Art Festival, Anamosa – June 10: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., downtown Anamosa. Juried art contest, music, student art and educational displays, kids’ activities. Anamosachamber.org/grantwoodartfestival
Shakespeare Festival, Iowa City – June 15 to July 8: Presented by Riverside Theatre on the outdoor Riverside Festival Stage, Lower City Park; “Merchant of Venice” and “As You Like It” performed in rotation. Riversidetheatre.org
Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival – June 21 to July 4: Music, baseball, ski shows, Firefighter Challenge, food, games, contests, parade June 23, Balloon Glow June 26, Patriotic Pops concert July 1, pancake breakfast, fireworks and more July 4.
Hog Wild Days, Hiawatha – June 21 to 24: Guthridge Park. Contests, Saturday parade at 10:30 a.m., music, food, carnival rides, flea market, 5K run, fireworks Sunday.
Wild West Weekend, Cedar Rapids – June 23 and 24: Ushers Ferry Historic Village, 5925 Seminole Valley Trl. NE. Saturday, 5 to 9 p.m.: hayrack ride, bonfire, cowboy stories and song; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.: living history demonstrations, children’s games, live music; $8 adults; $4 ages 3 to 14; $1 off with a Freedom Festival button. Cedar-rapids.org/resident-resources
TrekFest XXVIII, Riverside – June 29 and 30: Hall Park. Carnival rides, games, food, parade, contests, demolition derby, music, “Star Trek” trivia, sci-fi costume contest, fireworks. Trekfest.com
Iowa City Jazz Festival – June 29 to July 1: Downtown Iowa City. Well-known jazz musicians, up-and-coming artists, fireworks.
Coralville 4thFEST – June 30 to 4: S.T. Morrison Park. 5K run/walk June 30; carnival, entertainment, contests, food, July 4 parade at 10 p.m., fireworks. Free concert July 3 with Lonestar. Coralville.org
Museum Grand Reopening, Cedar Rapids – July 14 and 15: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, 1200 Inspiration Pl. SW. Parade of States 9 a.m., opening ceremonies 10 a.m. Saturday. Also, museum exhibits, history, music, food, dancing, kids’ activities, puppets, lectures.
Great Jones County Fair & Food Fest, Monticello – Carnival, food, exhibits, evening concerts by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Heart on Thursday, Blake Shelton and Josh Thompson on Friday, Toby Keith on Saturday. Greatjonescountyfair.com
Solon Beef Days – July 20 and 21: Music, games, contests, food. Beefdays.com
Fairy tale Festival, Cedar Rapids – July 22: 1 to 5 p.m., Ushers Ferry Historic Village, 5925 Seminole Valley Trl. NE. Storytellers, puppets, fairy tale games, crafts, fairy tale costume contest and parade. Adults free, $8 ages 13 and under. Cedar-rapids.org/resident-resources/parks-recreation/ushers-ferry/events/Pages/FairyTaleFestival.aspx
RAGBRAI’s 40th Bash, Cedar Rapids – July 26: Counting Crows concert headlines Party on the Island, 4:30 to 11 p.m., May’s Island vicinity, downtown; $35 at the gate, $25 in advance at Theatre Cedar Box Office
Nordic Fest, Decorah – July 26 to 28: Norwegian food and crafts, sporting events, opening ceremonies, Nordic dancers, street dances, parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, entertainment, fireworks.
Fruit of the Vine, Cedar Rapids – July 28: 4 to 8 p.m., Ushers Ferry Historic Village, 5925 Seminole Valley Trl. NE. Wine and beer tasting, music, silent auction, $15 ages 21 and over.
Hoover’s Hometown Days, West Branch – Aug. 3 and 4: Music, entertainment, Civil War attractions, rides and games, food, exhibits, Hooverball championships, Hoover gravesite ceremony, free birthday cake, fireworks.
Sauerkraut Days, Lisbon – Aug. 9 to 11: Food, carnival, music, contests, fireworks Aug. 9.
Iowa State Fair, Des Moines – Aug. 9 to 19: Fairgrounds, East 30th Street and East University Avenue. Midway rides, food on a stick, exhibits, agriculture displays, livestock, music, contests, demonstrations, Grandstand concerts and the Butter Cow. Iowastatefair.org
Sand in the City, Iowa City – Aug. 10 to 12: Downtown. Sand sculptures, food, kids’ activities, music; free admission.
Woodfest, Amana – Aug. 24 to 26: Amana Colonies RV Park and Event Center, 3890 C St. Wood craft displays, demonstrations, seminars, food, tool and supply sales. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 10 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Free admission and parking.
Brucemore Garden and Art Show, Cedar Rapids – Aug. 25: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Brucemore mansion grounds, 2160 Linden Dr. SE. Products and information for art enthusiasts and gardeners.
FRY Fest, Coralville – Sept. 7: Iowa River Landing area. Hawkeye celebration with food, trade show, car show, pep rally, outdoor concert. Fryfest.com
Swamp Fox Festival, Marion – Sept. 14 to 16: Marion Square Park. Golf outing, food, music, craft show, 5K run and fun walk, parade. Uptownmarion.com
Oktoberfest, Amana – Sept. 28 to 30: German bands, food and beverages, games, theater shows, parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, walking tours, museums open. Festivalsinamana.com