DubuqueFest Fine Arts Festival celebrates its 34th year as Iowa’s oldest all arts festival held in the heart of historic downtown Dubuque, May 20-22. Under the direction of collaborative partners, musician and promoter Aaron Hefel, and arts administrator and culture advocate Paula Neuhaus, the weekend is packed full of free music, art, and culture for all ages. The Dubuque County Fine Arts Society, a non-profit arts organization, launched the multi-faceted all arts festival in 1977 to promote the arts and to revitalize the downtown area by community building through arts and culture development. After 34 years of success DubuqueFest honors great traditions and adds contemporary twists.
The weekend features a fine art fair, live music and performances on two stages, children’s hands-on art activities, an Old House Tour by the Old Home Enthusiasts, a book release and reading by the Dubuque Area Writers Guild, a community chalk mural project and a community interactive painting kiosk, pottery demonstrations, an antique car show, an original one act play, dance performances, and music, music, music.
All events are free and open to the public. (The Old House Tour is a ticketed event.) Here are some highlights of what the weekend offers. For a full schedule of events visit www.dubuquefest.org.
Fine Art Fair
Saturday, 10am-5pm & Sunday, 10am-4pm in Washington Park
DubuqueFest ‘s annual juried fine art fair features the work of 70 artists and artisans from throughout the region offering the very best in fine art and fine craft. Meet the artists, learn about their process and invest in handcrafted on-of-a-kind pieces. With a wide selection of paintings, ceramics, hand-blown and fused glass, free from concrete sculpture, photography, letterpress work, fiber and fabric art, jewelry, slate work, hand-turned wood bowls, wearable art, calligraphy, custom leather footwear, stained glass, book art, clocks, and more this fair has original work for everyone.
Children’s Creation Station: Let your creativity soar!
Saturday, 10am-5pm & Sunday, 10am-4pm in Washington Park
The Children’s Creation Station will host a celebration of cultures through kites! Parents and children are invited to use recycled materials & paint to assemble and take home their own kite. Examples of kites from all over the world will be on display to inspire young artists to put their own creative spin on this traditional art form. The DubuqueFest Annual Children’s Creation Station is made possible by a community partnership grant from McGraw-Hill Companies. Volunteers from McGraw-Hill, the Dubuque Art Center’s Residency Program, DubuqueFest Committee members, and friends of the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society help staff the tent. Don’t forget to pick up your DubuqueFest interactive map that young people can use to navigate a fine art fair. Look for the kites and make your way to the fun!
Community Chalk Collaborative Illustration
Saturday, 11am-2pm in the Town Clock Plaza
Join artists from Dubuque Art Center’s Residency Program as they lead you in creating a collaborative illustration that explores community creativity. This sidewalk mural invites everyone to be an artist!
Dubuque Area Writers Guild Annual Book Release Reception: Youth Gallery
Friday, 6pm at Dubuque Museum of Art
The Dubuque Area Writers Guild invites you to the reading & release reception for Youth Gallery, an anthology of original work featuring local writers and artists under the age of 18. Celebrate an evening of words, refreshments, readings by selected contributors, and music. Books will be available for purchase at the reception, and at the art fair information booth in Washington Park throughout the weekend.
Interactive Painting Kiosk
Saturday, 11am-4pm in Washington Park
Join artists from Maquoketa Art Experience’s resident artist program in crating a collaborative community painting.
Antique & Vintage Car Display
Saturday & Sunday, 12-4pm
Tri-State Antique Car Club and Main Street Cruisers will have their classic cars on display. The owners of these beauties will be on hand to tell you all about the refurbishing and collecting of classic cars. Take photos and ask question but this is the kind of art you don’t touch without asking!
Amusements for Children by LT Amusements
Saturday & Sunday 10 am-4 pm
7th Street & Washington Park
Climbing wall, bouncing castle, super slide, and more!
Highlights of the Live Music on The Town Clock Main stage
Friday & Saturday 5 pm-10 pm
Live music on two stages all weekend long. The Town Clock Main stage offers local, regional, and national touring acts while the Washington Park Gazebo features the unplugged work by area musicians from 10 am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Visit www.dubuquefest.org for the full schedule for both stages.
Friday, May 20
Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts
8:00 p.m. @ the Town Clock
A musical brew that Miles himself calls “Beatle-esque Cosmic Americana.” A rich and layered sound that seamlessly blends Alternative Country and Blue-Eyed Soul, some Pop and Rock, and Tin Pan Alley song-craft.
The Right Now
6:30 p.m. @ the Town Clock
This Chicago soul funk group mixes a bit of blues with an upfront bass section and retro soul. Singer Stefanie Berecz's voice is one of the most celebrated in the Windy City as it leaps from the rooftops with tense restraint.
The Fast Clydes
5 p.m. @ the Town Clock
This local trio of handsome devils rock as sweet as they look. Cookin' up classic Rockabilly hits, these cats are gonna kick off the festival by rockin' this town inside out. Bring your dancing shoes!
Saturday, May 21
William Elliott Whitmore
8:30 p.m. @ the Town Clock
With a voice that sounds like the reincarnation of an old gospel preacher from the 1920s and a fascination with sin, death, and redemption to match, William Elliott Whitmore is one of the most unique artists to emerge on the Americana scene in years. Whitmore takes the DubuqueFest stage just weeks after finishing a tour with Chris Cornell!
7:30 p.m. @ the Town Clock
James Leg is the alter ego of John Wesley Meyers, keyboard man and vocalist for the southern blues duo Black Diamond Heavies. Pounding out southern blues mixed with his own hot and rockin' soul stylings many call him a "keyboard crazy" among the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis & Little Richard, but Leg's howlin', growlin' vocals are in a league of their own. Wear layers...this show is gonna make you sweat!
6:00 p.m. @ the Town Clock
Deeply rooted in the Chicago and International avant-garde and post rock scenes this trio expels sound with pervading energy and other-worldy delicacy. Starlicker is a unique trio, blending the origins of sound with imperative immediacy and sublime power. A must see!