Partygoers sing along to Billy Joel's "Piano Man" performed by dueling pianists on Wasahington Street during the Iowa City Downtown District Block Party on Saturday June 25, 2017. The Block Party, hosted by the ICDD was the first use of Iowa City's changed rules allowing open containers for select events downtown (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Downtown Block Party coming back to Iowa City in June


One of the city’s most popular summer events will have a return engagement.

By Maria Kuiper

A far cry from the wind and ice of January, Iowa City residents have something to look forward to come summer: the Downtown District’s second Block Party.

This year, the event will be held on June 23 from 5-11 p.m. Last year’s block party brought around 30,000 people, according to the Downtown District’s event page.

Betsy Potter, the district’s director of operations, said she was pleased with the reaction from last year’s eent.

“The Block Party went really well last year — the attendance was double what we expected,” she said. “We got really great feedback from our restaurants, bars, and businesses downtown.”

RELATED: Block Party a huge hit

As *The Daily Iowan* has previously reported, last year’s party was the largest downtown event in Iowa City history.

“The idea for the event was part of the component for the nighttime initiative, which is where the nighttime mayor position came out of,” Potter said. “We want to focus on nightlife downtown.”

Nighttime Mayor Angela Winnike’s purpose is to promote the Downtown District’s nightlife, Potter said. She just returned from speaking at the International Economic Development Commission Leadership Summit in Las Vegas.

“Anyone from any age or any family made their own experience by what events they chose,” Potter said. “One person’s experience is entirely different from someone else’s.”

This is due to the numerous events, she said. Last year, the Block Party offered a sand volleyball tournament, a fashion show, a drag race, live music, among other events.

A number of people worked together to make the party happen. Many volunteer groups, including the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation, helped. Lisa Bragg, the program coordinator, said she looks forward to this year.

“It was a great event for all of our volunteers to come together,” she said. “They don’t have chances to do projects together often. The camaraderie everyone had was wonderful, and it was great to give back to the city.”

One of the sponsors of last year’s event was radio station Z102.9 of Cedar Rapids. Karol Kelly, the radio station’s promotion director, said the community also played a role in the event’s success.

“The feedback from the community was huge,” Kelly said. “It was a great event the community supported. Neighbors were talking to neighbors, students were talking to students, and it was an opportunity to go downtown.”

Kelly noted that the radio station’s experience mostly lies in Cedar Rapids.

“We thought the Iowa City market would be similar,” Kelly said. “The Iowa City Downtown District hit it out of the park, especially for a first-year event. They were really creative with the games and entertainment they had.”

One of the creative aspects of the Block Party, Potter said, was the open-container policy.

Last year, as previously reported by *The Daily Iowan*, the City Council eased the open-container policy for the party. This year, according to a Facebook post, tickets will be $10, which will include a wristband and a cup for attendees over 21, allowing the ticket holder to take beer and wine from a bar or restaurant into the street. The city cups are the only cups that will be allowed.

Potter said everyone should stay up-to-date via Facebook. She expects more information about programming, musicians, and volunteer opportunities to be posted in March or April.

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