Explore Live Music Around Iowa
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Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
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Listen and Follow

Charge up your phone to capture the rainbow-hued balloons at Indianola’s National Balloon Classic, which kicks off tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.

Balloons Light Up the Indianola Skies This Week

For over 50 years, Indianola’s National Balloon Classic has drawn visitors and locals alike with skies filled with balloons in brilliant colors and unique shapes. This year, the event runs July 29–Aug. 6 at Memorial Balloon Field, located at 15335 Jewell St. in Indianola.

Pack lawn chairs or a blanket to enjoy an evening watching the 125-plus balloons take off at 6:30 p.m. each evening. You can also enjoy local flavors and listen to area musicians. Gates open tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. for the kickoff flight.

This Saturday (July 30), there’s a parade and arts festival at Buxton Park. If you’re an early bird, set your alarm for the 5:15 a.m. launch, in which the balloons take off amid dark skies.

Admission is $10 online and $12 at several retailers. Tickets need to be purchased in advance—print or show on your mobile device. Plan on local eats from food trucks, which will be serving options such as pie a la mode, kettle corn, shave ice, walking tacos, burgers, waffles, crepes and more. There’s also a beer and wine tent and gift shop highlighting Iowa makers.

To get up in the skies, reserve a ride through Galena on the Fly; $220 per person. Reserve at

Learn more about the event at

Be sure to bring your beanbags, blankets and bottled water for this year's Hinterland music festival, which includes four days of live music acts. Photo: Paige Kleckner.

Largest Iowa Music Festival Gets Larger

Throw on your festival best and get ready for camping and live music in Saint Charles. Hinterland returns, expanded this year to a four-day event, with an impressive lineup to look forward to: Grammy-winning bluegrass musician Billy Strings, indie newcomer Phoebe Bridgers, and rock bands Glass Animals and Nathanniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. And they're just the headliners.

Other acts sure to draw a crowd include indie-electronic beats master Goth Babe, Nashville-based Mat Kearney and singer and actress Jenny Lewis.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without the food stalls. Look for vendors including Lucky Lotus, Wingz on Wheelz and The Outside Scoop. More attractions include a variety of crafts for sale by artisans and a wellness tent by Habitual Roots housing a tea lounge, sound baths and morning meditations.

Four-day passes and camping wristbands are still available. Find them here.

Joe Smith and the Spicy Pickles Jazz Band from Denver are one of the bands hitting the stage at Davenport’s Rhythm City Casino as part of the Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival, Aug. 4–6.

Plan on a Jazzy Weekend in Davenport

Proud home to cornet player Bix Beiderbecke, the city of
Davenport continues to celebrate jazz through its annual festival named after the 1920s jazz icon. Marking its 49th year Aug. 4–6 at Rhythm City Casino and several other venues around town, the event is loaded with talent.

Plan to hear numerous types of jazz from a variety of bands, including the Bix Youth Jazz Band, the Benny Goodman Trio, the New Orleans Night Owls, the Chicago Cellar Boys and Des Moines’ NOLA Jazz Band. Find the complete lineup here.

Tickets are available for single days ($35) or the entire weekend ($150). Book here.
There's fun for all ages at Tugfest in LeClaire on the Mississippi River. Kids can pull their own weight in the Kid's Tug before the adult teams take their turns. Photo courtesy of Visit LeClaire.

Pulling for LeClaire--Across the Mississippi River

By Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Iowans usually enjoy peaceful relations with our neighbors to the east, but tensions are ratcheting up. They’re so tense, in fact, that a tug-of-war will soon break out across the mighty Mississippi.

Eleven brawny teams from LeClaire and Port Byron, Illinois, will pull either end of a 2,700-foot long, 680-pound rope during the 35th annual Tugfest, Aug. 11-13. It’s the only official two-state tug-of-war and the only event that stops traffic on the river.

The idea “started in a bar—imagine that,” says Cindy Bruhn, who manages Le Claire’s tourism office and champions its Cody Road Cultural and Entertainment District.

Over the years, she says, the tradition has grown into a three-day festival with a parade, carnival, concerts and a massive fireworks show shot from a barge on the Mississippi. (Both cities split the bill and get a good deal; it’s the tail end of the fireworks season.)

Illinois has the better tugging record, 23 to 12, but this year’s Iowa teams look solid. “We’d like to win, of course,” Bruhn says, “but we always have the best party.”
After a two-year hiatus, the Meskwaki Nation is hosting their 106th annual powwow near Tama. Photo: Meskwaki Media.

Experience Meskwaki Culture at Annual Powwow

Held on the only Native American settlement in Iowa, the Meskwaki Annual Powwow will be Aug. 11–14. The Meskwaki Nation is made up of the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, and their federally recognized settlement is located near Tama (about 20 minutes east of Marshalltown). Each year, they host a four-day festival and invite visitors to enjoy the ceremonies alongside the tribe.

The powwow showcases traditional dancing, singing, food and artwork. Learn about dances, such as the Friendship Dance or Swan Dance, passed down through generations; see the beautiful regalia handmade to represent the tribe; and taste traditional foods like Meskwaki fry bread.

The tribe asks that all visitors be respectful of the sacred nature of the powwow. Click here to see the tribe’s rundown of what to expect and general powwow etiquette.
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President Hoover, second from left, plays his namesake game on the White House lawn in early 1933. Photo  courtesy of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

Have a (Hoover) Ball in West Branch

By Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

It’s hard to imagine Washington bigwigs rising each morning to exercise on the White House lawn these days, but there was a time when that was part of the routine. President Herbert Hoover, members of the cabinet and Supreme Court justices tossed around a medicine ball six days a week, rain or shine.

The sport was a popular tradition during Hoover’s four years as president, 1929-1933, and for the past three decades in West Branch, where Hoover grew up. The town hosts its annual Hoover-Ball National Championships during Hoover Hometown Days, happening Aug. 5–6.

Hoover was on a goodwill trip to South America shortly after his election, in 1928, when he spotted some sailors tossing around a soft 9-pound medicine ball aboard the U.S.S. Utah. He jumped in for a few rounds of a keep-away game called Bull in the Ring and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So he and his physician, Dr. Joel Boone, cooked up a similar game back in Washington, where teams of two to four players heaved a ball over an 8-foot net. A New York Times reporter dubbed it “Hoover-Ball” in 1931.

You can learn more about the sport’s colorful history at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museumor jump into a game yourself during the West Branch festival.
Fresh produce can go a long way to help food-insecure individuals. You can start your own garden and donate what you don’t use.

Help Stop Hunger During Harvest Season

Writer: Karla Walsh

Sweet Tooth Farm’s Monika Owczarski grows produce on her chemical-free urban plot in Des Moines to sell on a sliding scale at her farm stand, to package up in affordable seasonal vegetable boxes, and to stock the Sweet Tooth Community Fridge she launched in 2020. (Think of this fridge like a little free library: Leave what you can, take what you need—no questions asked.)

If you’re a gardener, or even if you simply have a few container gardens on a patio or balcony, you can follow Owczarski’s lead and plant some extra to share with any organization that accepts fresh food. A variety of volunteer-led groups harvest fresh produce to share with the community. Find one near you by visiting your city's website.

Iowa Stops Hunger is an ongoing Business Publications Corp. initiative to raise awareness of food insecurity and inspire action to combat it.

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