Singer, songwriter Kurt Vile and The Violators performs at the Englert Theatre. Kurt Vile closed out this years Mission Creek music and arts festival in Iowa City. (The Daily Iowan; Jordan Gale)

Festival City springs to life


By Levi Wright

Though a lot of students wil leave during the summer, there is still a thriving cultural scene that will remain. A slate of festivals, led by the Summer of the Arts, will take place during the summer, giving music and art lovers a chance to indulge in the rich culture that takes place in Iowa City.

“Most of these festivals have been around for a very long time, and the goal originally for most of them was to just get people to come downtown, and I think since it’s started, it’s grown quite a bit,” said Lisa Barnes, the executive director of the Summer of the Arts. “It’s an opportunity for the whole community to come together to experience the arts of no charge.”

People left in Iowa City can kick off their summer with the Iowa Arts Festival, beginning June 2. The first festival is the one of the most anticipated festival of the summer, with 115 artists from across the nation converging in Iowa City to showcase their visual, culinary, and, of course, musical talents. The main focus for this festival will be fine art that has been selected by a jury.

Lots of people associate festivals with a bunch of kids partying through the weekend. But that’s just not the case here. This festival is open to families and kids, with the entire Pedestrian Mall devoted to kid-friendly activities.

The Iowa Arts Festival may be a highly anticipated festival of the summer, but it’s definitely not the only one. So, if your calendar is busy that week, don’t worry; this summer is full of events.

Next in the festival lineup is the highly anticipated Jazz Festival, which has taken place since 1991 and become a nationally recognized event in the process. Open to all, this event takes place June 30-July 2 in downtown.

“Historically, the Jazz Festival is known as one of the top-10 jazz festivals in the country,” Barnes said. “We bring in a lot of up incoming talent as well as very well-established jazz musicians.”

So, whether you’re a die-hard jazz fan or watched *La La Land* once, come on down. Rain or shine, this festival will take place, and once it’s all done, attendees can sit on the Pentacrest for a grand fireworks show. Some of the artist coming include United Jazz Ensemble, North Corridor Jazz All Stars, Laura Caviani Trio, and many more.

If neither of those fit your fancy, or you’ve been slammed with classwork this summer, then maybe you can head out to the season’s final festival.

The Iowa Soul Festival takes place Aug. 4 and 5. This festival showcases the positive influences that culture has had in Iowa. Artist will arrive from all over to showcase all forms of African and African-American art.

Anyone who loves art can find something here. There will be dancing, food, art, and, of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without music. There is even a FUN zone for kids, so you can bring them along as well. Maybe later on, when you get hungry from walking around, you can grab some soul food.

“During the school year, it is typically just the students,” Barnes said. “So this is an opportunity to say, ‘Hey it’s not as crazy downtown, not as many students, so come downtown and check things out.”

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