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Iowa Arts Festival Day 2: Rain or Shine

by Lauren Arzbaecher

Living directly downtown in Iowa City has its ups and downs, but being able to step out of the door to my apartment into a street filled with art makes it fully worth it. The second day of the 2019 Iowa Arts Festival brought even more excitement, with events going from ten in the morning until the late hours of the night.

Artists presenting at the festival come from a wide variety of mediums. There are woodworkers, sculptors, jewelers, photographers, painters, and so many more. Practically every type of art of is on display. Whatever style one is looking for, festival attendees are sure to find an amazing piece. Alongside the more established artists is a showcase for emerging artists, featuring work from local high school and college creators.

A bout of rain interrupted some of the late afternoon activities, spring weather in the Midwest being always unpredictable. Luckily, the storm was short-lived. After hiding under awnings or finding recluse inside artist tents, crowds returned to the streets, ready to enjoy the rest of the festival.

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A fluffy festival goer gets a hug from its owner. Photo by Lauren Arzbaecher

A fluffy festival goer gets a hug from its owner.
Photo by Lauren Arzbaecher

Two festival attendees enjoy a performance. Photo by Lauren Arzbaecher

Two festival attendees enjoy a performance.
Photo by Lauren Arzbaecher

Gracing the three stages throughout the day was a barrage of skilled musicians. A majority of those in the lineup are local artists, from Iowa City itself or other parts of Eastern Iowa. All different styles and levels of musicians performed, from young artists like Ingrid Streitz and Abbie Callahan to small town favorites, like Horse Feathers, who I was thrilled to see again after becoming a fan of the group following their appearance at Mission Creek Festival last year.

While the musical acts continued to dazzle audiences, other entertainers joined the fray. Stilt-walkers weaved through the crowds while juggler Luther Bangert fascinated onlookers by maintaining an astounding six balls simultaneously in the air. One of the most visually captivating performances of the day was a collaborative show of flow artists, which encompasses a variety of movement-based disciplines involving props such as hula hoops.

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Justin Ringle of Horse Feathers. Photo by Lauren Arzbaecher

Justin Ringle of Horse Feathers.
Photo by Lauren Arzbaecher

Iowa City’s literary culture was represented at the festival as well. Readings of poems from the Poetry in Public campaign occurred around every hour. The initiative displays chosen poems by writers of all ages around the community inside city busses, the public library, and other public facilities from the beginning of April—national poetry month—through the fall.

The final acts of the night filled the street in front of the main stage on Clinton Street. Solo artist William Elliott Whitmore stirred the crowd into a frenzy with his rustic sound. Armed with just a guitar and a bass drum, his soulful voice filled the festival grounds and left the audience chanting for more. Finishing out the Saturday lineup was the duo Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, washing downtown over with tunes of folk and Americana. With one Grammy and three nominations between the two of them, their years of musical experience shone brightly from the Arts Festival stage.


Enjoy the final day of the Iowa Arts Festival and keep up with Fools for coverage of local events!