Three days of art, music and film will take over Western Gateway Park in Des Moines, while the Des Moines Arts Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary from June 24 to 26.
Stephen King, executive director of the Des Moines Arts Festival, has been participating in the festival for 16 years and has seen it expand to include more artists and programs.
“As we all know, Iowans love to hibernate in the winter,” King joked. “So this is a great opportunity for them to jump in there and see everyone again. I also think that one of the biggest attractions is artists, being able to see both artists who have been here before, and then just going out to see who’s new, what the new job looks like, and I’m trying to I’m researching something new. “
According to King, the festival will feature 32 more artists than last year, for a total of 190 visual artists.
Artists come from 34 different states and Nova Scotia. Of the 190 artists, 17 are from Iowa and 53 come from neighboring Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin.
“For me, it’s like a family reunion,” King said. “I know many of these artists, only from past experience and from the Des Moines Festival of Arts. So it’s always nice and fun to see them on the weekends. I love watching art, I love buying art – as my wife will point out – but it’s really my favorite. “
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As many artists lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent blockades, King saw the Arts Festival as a way for the community to support independent artists.
“Along with their talent comes the need to help support their business,” King said. “I certainly think that Des Moines as a community has proven how incredibly supportive individual artists are. I think one of the things that the Arts Festival offers is this opportunity to meet the artists, to know who this person is and to find out what the story is behind the work they have created. “
Here’s what you need to know about the 25th Annual Des Moines Arts Festival.
What is the Des Moines Arts Festival?
The festival has its roots in 1958, when the Des Moines Center for the Arts hosted the Iowa Arts Fair to help celebrate its 10th anniversary, according to the Des Moines Arts Festival website.
The art show underwent several changes in its name and location until 1998, when it was moved to the center of the Des Moines River and renamed the Des Moines Festival of Arts.
While Iowa’s first art fair attracted only a few hundred guests, the Des Moines Art Festival now boasts an annual attendance of more than 200,000. The art festival has seen more than 2.5 million visitors since moving to the center in 1998.
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“I can’t tell you how many times this has been shared with us by corporations that have helped sponsor the festival on how important arts and culture are in our community,” King said. “Things like these festivals are important to our communities for a great place to live, quality of life, retain employees, not to mention the tax base that it contributes to and helps support the community as a whole.”
Part of the proceeds from the Arts Festival go to support the Des Moines Center for the Arts.
Before you go: What you need to know about parking and the entrance to the Des Moines Arts Festival
Admission to the festival is free. However, VIP packages are available for purchase on the Des Moines Arts Festival website, starting at $ 80 and including access to the VIP Club Silent Rivers during the festival, an express bar of food and beverage outlets, a commemorative poster and other benefits.
The VIP parking lot is located at 212 Oreh Street, at the intersection of 12a and Oreh Streets.
For non-VIPs, Nationwide Insurance provides free parking on its ramp at 1100 Walnut St., between 10th and 12th Streets, starting at 11 a.m. Friday and lasting until the weekend.
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In addition, DART’s free D-Line Shuttle runs every 10 minutes from the Iowa State Capitol to Western Gateway Park. D-Line is open from 6:30 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday and from 7 am to 5 pm on Saturdays.
For those hoping to avoid traffic altogether, cycling is another option. The festival will have a free cycling valet sponsored by Friends of Central Iowa Trails. The valet will be located on Locust Street between 15th and 16th Streets. The cycling maid will close 30 minutes after the end of the festival every day.
New artists at the art festival
Since 2003, the Arts Festival has been helping young new artists through the Emerging Iowa Artists program.
Iowans enrolled in every higher education institute are welcome to apply. Young artists are selected through the same jury process that selects professional artists. It gives emerging artists the opportunity to display and sell their artwork together with festival professionals at no cost to them.
This year’s seven emerging artists are:
- Hailey Anderson of Ames, a student at Iowa State University
- Ashley Thief by Ankeni, a student at Grandview University
- Becca Hickok by Des Moines, a student at Drake University
- Kayana Janai by Des Moines, a student at Grandview University
- Megan Rohr from Oscaloosa, a student at Central College
- Luke Schuster by Johnston, a student at Antonio Nebria University
- Alima Sula by Cedar Falls, a student at Kirkwood Community College
Art, movies and music to watch
The Interrobang Film Festival will return to the Des Moines Central Public Library, 1000 Grand Ave., during the Arts Fest, with part of the jury, part public screening and part seminar. Go to the library to see movies like “Steps to the Moon”, “Life on Earth” and “Jimmy in Saigon” or watch one of the short film sessions with three or more screened together.
For a more practical Arts Fest experience, check out one of the many free interactive art activities on offer. Prairie Meadows and Altoona Lions Club will offer an art spinning station, and Blank Park Zoo will help guests create seed balls. Make a DIY bird nest at Iowa Bird Rehabilitation Station or design and spray paint your own personalized T-shirt with the help of Supply Hive volunteers. Whatever your artistic niche, the many interactive activities of the Arts Festival have covered you.
The inaugural concert for the 25th anniversary with the participation of William Elliott Whitmore will take place at 19:30 on June 23 at Roots Stage, in the parking lot east of 1416 Locust St. Whitmore grew up on a family farm in Lee County, Iowa, according to his description of the Arts Fest artist. He has traveled the country performing folk music with blues, soul and punk rock influences.
Other artists who perform at the Arts Fest include G. Love & Special Sauce, an alternative, blues and hip-hop band from Philadelphia, and James Tutson and the Rollback, a soul / rhythm and blues band from Iowa City. Music artists will be on stage at the Arts Fest all weekend, so check out the full list of Art Festival performers to find a show.
During the festival, artists will offer demonstrations of techniques they have used to create their works. An artist, Alicia Velazquez, will demonstrate traditional Native American bead-making techniques. Another artist, Ashley Craddock, will show how she uses wood burning tools to create her art. For a full list of artists’ demonstrations, times and places, visit the Des Moines Arts Festival website.
New to this year’s Arts Festival is inspired by the month of Pride drag brunch at 10:30 a.m. on June 26 on the main stage of Hy-Vee. The drag brunch is $ 40 per ticket, available for purchase online and includes brunch, soft drinks and the opportunity to mingle with drag artists.
A free drag show will be held in the afternoon, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We’ve really built a more stable schedule for this year’s festival,” King said.
Closed roads near the Des Moines Arts Festival
Residents of Des Moines must keep in mind the closure of roads that will take place during the festival. Locust Street between 17th and 10th Streets will close at 9 a.m. on June 24 and reopen at 6 a.m. on June 29.
Grand Avenue between 16th and 10th Streets will close at 6 pm on June 24 and reopen at 6 am on June 29. The streets of the cross (12th, 13th and 15th streets) will close at 9 am on June 24 and will reopen at 6 am on June 29.