After a long year of grappling with COVID-19, summer comes back to eastern Iowa with a bang. From Iowa City’s weekend Jazz Festival to Cedar Rapids’ month-long Freedom Festival, there are no shortage of places to celebrate this holiday weekend.
Iowa City Jazz Festival
Summer of the Arts is back to in-person programming this year, meaning Iowa City’s two-day Jazz Festival returns for its 30th year. Along with it are subsequent annual events organized by the non-profit such as Blues Festival and the Iowa Arts Festival later in the summer.
Jazz Fest kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Friday with three performances on the Weatherdance Fountain Stage on the Pedestrian Mall in downtown Iowa City. The first performance comes courtesy of KCCK’s Schoolhouse Jazz, a group aimed at youth performances.
Things run all day Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. with music and vendors and concluding at 9:30 p.m. with fireworks from Iowa City at the Old Capitol Museum on the Pentacrest.
Headlining this year’s event (previously announced as drummer Terri Lynne Carrington) is guitarist Cory Wong from Minnesota. Wong received a Grammy nomination for his new age album “Meditations” and is the host of the podcast “Wong Notes,” in which he speaks with legendary and up-and-coming musicians.
The full schedule for this weekend’s festival, as posted on the Summer of the Arts website, is as follows:
- 4:30 p.m., Schoolhouse Jazz, Weatherdance Fountain Stage, 210 S. Dubuque St.
- 6:30 p.m., NOLA Jazz Band, Weatherdance Fountain Stage
- 8:10 p.m., Big Fun, Weatherdance Fountain Stage
- 11:30 a.m., United Jazz Ensemble, Main Stage, on Clinton St. between Iowa Ave. and Jefferson St.
- 12:15 p.m., North Corridor Jazz All Stars, Main Stage
- 1 p.m., Bad News, Side Stage, on Clinton St. near Washington St.
- 2 p.m., Giveton Gelin, Main Stage
- 3 p.m., Peterson/Thaker Quartet, Side Stage
- 4 p.m., Immanuel Wilkins, Main Stage
- 5 p.m., Jim Buennig, Side Stage
- 6 p.m., Bonegasm, Main Stage
- 7 p.m., Wave Cage, Side Stage
- 8 p.m. Cory Wong, Main Stage
- 9:30 p.m., City of Iowa City Fireworks, Old Capitol Museum, 21 N. Clinton St.
More information is available at summerofthearts.org.
American Ballet Theatre at Hancher Auditorium
Though not explicitly an Independence Day event, Iowa City’s Hancher Auditorium will be hosting the American Ballet Theater on July 4 for a 50-minute show.
Attendees are invited to bring their lawn chair and blankets to Hancher, 141 Park Road, at 6:30 p.m. for this $5 performance with the event itself beginning at 8 p.m.
Part of the American Ballet Theatre’s tour across America, the evening will feature four performances, two of which explicitly feature jazz influences (Jessica Lang’s pas deux “Let Me Sing Forevermore” and Darrell Grand Moultrie’s “Indestructible Light”).
Tickets and more information about the event are available at hancher.uiowa.edu.
Coralville’s 4thFest is in full swing again this year after paring things back in 2020.
Concerts, fireworks and more are back starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday in S.T. Morrison Park, 1513 7th St., with free music and food grilled by the Coralville Police and Fire departments. Free family activities will also be offered through the evening, including from the Iowa Children’s Museum, Coralville Recreation Center and the Coralville Public Library.
On Saturday, the weekend’s carnival starts at noon in the Aquatic Center parking lot — 1513 7th St. — with food vendors setting up half an hour before in S.T. Morrison Park. Live performances and activities run through the day, concluding with a performance from the weekend’s headliner, country musician Josh Turner, at 8 p.m.
Things start early Sunday with a Kiwanis pancake breakfast to go at 8 a.m. at the Coralville Recreation Center, 1506 8th St., before the carnival returns at noon. The weekend concludes with fireworks in the park beginning at 9:45 p.m.
A detailed schedule of events can be found at coralville.org/346/Schedule-of-Events.
Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival
While the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival is a month full of events, the bulk of activities is scheduled for this weekend to coincide with Independence Day.
First among these is the Root Beer Festival at 1 p.m. Saturday at the History Center, 800 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. This $5 family-friendly event will also showcase the touring exhibition “Spirited,” which showcases stories of America’s Prohibition Era.
Saturday will conclude with a fireworks show starting at 7 p.m. in downtown Cedar Rapids. Fireworks will be lit from the 1st Avenue Bridge.
A schedule for events this weekend is as follows:
- Root Beer Festival, 1-4 p.m., July 3, The History Center, 800 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
- Virtual Music at the Museum, 7 p.m., July 3, facebook.com/CRFreedomFestival
- Five Seasons Ski Team, 7-8 p.m., July 3, Ellis Park, 1979 Ellis Blvd NW, Cedar Rapids
- Drive-Thru Pancake Breakfast, 8 a.m.-noon, July 4, ImOn Ice Arena, 1100 Rockford Rd SW, Cedar Rapids
- Freedom Festival Car Show, 8 a.m.-noon, July 4, Kernels Parking Lot, 950 Rockford Rd SW, Cedar Rapids
- CR Municipal Band ‘Music By Twilight,’ 6:30-8:30 p.m., July 4, Guthridge Park, 704 Emmons St., Hiawatha
- Celebration of Freedom – Fireworks, 7-10:30 p.m., July 4, Downtown Cedar Rapids
- Five Season Ski Team, 7-8 p.m., July 4, Ellis Park, 1979 Ellis Blvd NW, Cedar Rapids
More information and a full slate of events can be found at freedomfestival.com/events