Summer festivals are springing up all over, ushering in a season of fun in the sun.
Whether your tastes run artistic, sporty, ethnic or historic, Eastern Iowa truly has something for everyone.
Iowa City’s Summer of the Arts brings the best in music and art to the heart of downtown. Cedar Rapids reminds us of the sacrifices made for our freedoms, with three weeks of celebrations recreational, musical, but above all, patriotic.
Norway is celebrating its sesquicentennial, while Decorah annually parades all things Norwegian. North Liberty, just a tad younger, is celebrating its centennial all year long, with a great big birthday bash on July 13.
Beer, houbys (mushrooms), barbecue, pork and sauerkraut are just some of the delicacies being dished for their very own festivals. And of course, most of the other festivals have food, too, in their lineups. After all, what would the State Fair be without food on a stick and the Butter Cow? Music, of course, and lots and lots of rides and vendors.
We’ll outline more of the music festivals this month in Hoopla, but music also is at the heart of the Iowa City Jazz Festival, which focuses on the finest jazz sounds this side of Birdland, and who’s hotter than Keith Urban, coming to the always stellar lineup at the Great Jones County Fair in Monticello.
New to the summer scene is the Iowa Soul Festival in downtown Iowa City in September. Sand in the City, part of the Iowa City lineup the past few years, is moving north to become part of the Cedar Rapids Freedom Fest.
So grab your planners and start mapping out a summer of fun right in our own backyards. Let the fireworks begin.
★ SUMMER OF THE ARTS, Iowa City
Friday Night Concert Series, through Sept. 27, outside by Sheraton Iowa City; Saturday Night Concert Series, through Aug. 24, outside by Sheraton Iowa City; Iowa Arts Festival, June 7 to 8, downtown; Free Movie Series, June 15 to Aug. 22, outside Macbride Hall; Iowa City Jazz Festival, July 5 to 7, downtown; Iowa Soul Festival, Sept. 13 to 15, downtown. Summerofthearts.org
★ UI ARTSFEST, Iowa City
May 3: 4 to 7 p.m., University of Iowa Studio Arts, 1375 Hwy. 1 W; free, interactive art experience presented by the UI School of Art & Art History graduate and undergraduate students. Arts.uiowa.edu/artsfest
★ CHALK THE WALK, Mount Vernon
May 4 and 5: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Madonnari Festival, juried and public chalk drawings on downtown streets, live music, Cornell College Culture Fair. Visitmvl.com
★ MAIFEST, Amana
May 4 and 5: Taste of Amana Colonies Food Fair, Maipole dancing, German folk music, parade and more; free admission. Festivalsinamana.com
★ BENZ BEER FEST, Cedar Rapids
May 11: 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 17 to 19: Czech Village. Czech food, music, may pole dancing, puppet show, folk dance festival. Ncsml.org
★ MARION ARTS FESTIVAL
May 18: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., City Square Park, Juried art exhibits, 5K and half marathon, demonstrations, art activities. Marionartsfestival.com
★ NORTH LIBERTY BLUES & BBQ
May 25: Noon to 10 p.m., Liberty Centre, Penn Street and Liberty Way; music, food, games; free admission. Rain date: May 26. Northlibertyblues.org
★ IOWA RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL, Middle Amana
May 25 to 27: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Middle Amana Park. Historical re-enactments, jousting, entertainment, merchants, food. Admission: $10 adults, $6 children. Iowarenfest.com
★ CR PRIDE FEST, Cedar Rapids
June 1: 4 to 8 p.m., Greene Square Park; entertainment, vendors, free admission. crpridefest.com
★ MARION BAR-B-QUE RENDEZVOUS
June 1: Noon to 9 p.m., Marion Square Park; food, music. Marionmetrokiwanis.org
★ CENTER POINT PORK DAYS
June 6 to 8: 5K run Saturday, bands all three nights, carnival, talent show, beer tent and kids’ tractor pull. Sponsored by the Center Point Lions.
★ ROBINS ROUNDUP
June 7 and 8: Expanded 125th anniversary celebration, food, games, entertainment, 5K twilight run/walk 8 p.m. June 7, parade 10 a.m. June 8, Endless Summer classic rock June 8. Robinsroundup.com
★ IOWA ARTS FESTIVAL, Iowa City
June 7 to 9: Downtown Iowa City; 125 local and national artists, local and national musicians, Old 97’s at 9 p.m. June 8, kids’ activities, foods. Summerofthearts.org
★ CORRIDOR BEER FESTIVAL, Cedar Rapids
June 8: Noon to 5 p.m., Greene Square Park; celebrating craft beer, sample beer brewed from Iowa to California. live music, food, souvenir tasting glass, $25. Corridorbeerfest.com
★ NORTH LIBERTY FUN DAYS
June 13 to 16: Penn Meadows Park. Carnival rides, music, car show. Facebook.com/NLFunDays/info
★ GRANT WOOD ART FESTIVAL, Anamosa
June 9: Arboretum on Williams Street. Event in transition. Details: Anamosachamber.org/grantwoodartfestival
★ RIVERSIDE THEATRE IN THE PARK, Iowa City
June 14 to July 7: Presented by Riverside Theatre on the outdoor Riverside Festival Stage, Lower City Park; “Hamlet” and “The School for Scandal” performed in rotation. Riversidetheatre.org
★ CEDAR RAPIDS FREEDOM FESTIVAL
June 21 to July 4: Sand in the City, Dock Dogs, music, food, games, contests, Balloon Glow June 25, parade June 29, Patriotic Pops concert June 30, Movie Night at the Ballpark July 2, 30th anniversary fireworks and more July 4. Freedomfestival.com
★ HOG WILD DAYS, Hiawatha
June 20 to 23: Guthridge Park. Contests, music, food, carnival rides, flea market, 5K run, parade 10:30 a.m. Saturday, fireworks 10 p.m. Sunday. Hogwilddays.com
★ WILD WEST WEEKEND, Cedar Rapids
June 22 and 23: 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.: shootouts, living history demonstrations, children’s games, live music; $9 adults; $5 children; $1 off with a Freedom Festival button. Cedar-rapids.org
★ TREKFEST XXIX, Riverside
June 28 and 29: Hall Park. Carnival rides, games, food, parade, contests, demolition derby, music, “Star Trek” trivia, sci-fi costume contest, fireworks. Trekfest.com
★ CORALVILLE 4THFEST
June 29 to July 4: S.T. Morrison Park. 5K run/walk, carnival, entertainment, contests, food, July 4 parade and 10 p.m. fireworks. Free concert July 3 with 38 Special. Coralville.org
★ IOWA CITY JAZZ FESTIVAL
July 5 to 7: Downtown Iowa City. Well-known jazz musicians, up-and-coming artists, food, kids’ games, fireworks July 5, Saturday headliner Dr. Lonnie Smith. Summerofthearts.org
★ NORTH LIBERTY BIRTHDAY BASH
July 13: 11 a.m., North Liberty Park. Community picnic, games, music, evening concert by Hairball, $5. nlbirthdaybash.com
★ FAIR TALE FESTIVAL, Cedar Rapids
July 14: 2 to 4 p.m., Ushers Ferry Historic Village, 5925 Seminole Valley Trl. NE. Storytellers, fairy tale games and crafts; adults free, $9 ages 13 and under. Cedar-rapids.org
★ GREAT JONES COUNTY FAIR, Monticello
July 17 to 21: Carnival, food, exhibits, evening concerts by Sheryl Crow and Gary Allan on Thursday, Motley Crue and Tesla on Friday, Keith Urban, Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch on Saturday, TobyMac, Jamie Grace and Capital Kings on Sunday. Greatjonescountyfair.com
★ NORDIC FEST, Decorah
July 25 to 27: Norwegian food and crafts, sporting events, opening ceremonies, Nordic dancers, street dances, parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, entertainment, fireworks. Nordicfest.com
★ HOOVER’S HOMETOWN DAYS, West Branch
Aug. 2 and 3: Music, entertainment, Civil War attractions, rides and games, food, exhibits, Hooverball championships, Hoover gravesite ceremony, free birthday cake, fireworks. hooverassociation.org/newsevents/hooverfest.php
★ SAUERKRAUT DAYS, Lisbon
Aug. 8 to 10: Food, carnival, music, contests, fireworks. Sauerkrautdays.com
★ IOWA STATE FAIR, Des Moines
Aug. 8 to 18: 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
★ WOODFEST, Amana
Aug. 23 to 25: 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. Amanaartsguild.com
★ BRUCEMORE GARDEN AND ART SHOW, Cedar Rapids
Aug. 24: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Brucemore mansion grounds, 2160 Linden Dr. SE. Products and information for art enthusiasts and gardeners; $6 ages 11 and up. Brucemore.org/events
★ NORWAY SESQUICENTENNIAL
Aug. 24: 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., bike race, parade, vendor fair, kids carnival, baseball games, band and beer tent.
★ FRY FEST, Coralville
Aug. 30: Iowa River Landing area. Hawkeye celebration with food, trade show, car show, pep rally, 7 p.m. outdoor concert with Chris Cagle and Dustin Lynch. Fryfest.com
★ IOWA SOUL FESTIVAL, Iowa City
Sept. 13 to 15: Downtown, dance, music, food and art of the African and African-American communities. Summerofthearts.org