2023 Iowa Arts Festival in downtown Iowa City -- June 2 through 4.

Friday, June 2, through Sunday, June 4

Downtown Iowa City IA

A 40-year tradition that has attracted more than 25,000 people each summer to downtown Iowa City, the Iowa Arts Festival, from June 2 through 4, will host more than 100 visual artists, include an Emerging Artist Area geared toward elevating student work, and feature a beverage garden, a variety of culinary delights, children’s activities, and thrilling live-music performances, including by this year's headliner Alejandro Escovedo.

With nearly 20 albums and EPs to his credit over the course of three decades, Escovedo has as eclectic a background and body of work as any rock artist of his generation. As comfortable performing with a string ensemble as he is with an amped-up power trio, and as likely to bare his soul in his lyrics as he is to display some serious rock-and-roll swagger, Escovedo had already played an important role in punk (with the Nuns), roots rock (the True Believers), and alt-country (Rank & File) before he launched a solo career that's seen him work with everyone from Tony Visconti and John Cale to Bruce Springsteen. As Rolling Stone stated, “Musically, Alejandro Escovedo is in his own genre.”

The 2023 Iowa Arts Festival opens on Friday at 5 p.m. with the Art Fair showcasing more than 100 national visual artists, an array of culinary delights and Beverage Garden drinks available for purchase, and Festival Fun Stops providing plenty of early-evening entertainment. At 6 p.m. the music starts with the performance by Funktastic 5, the funk and R&B band from the Quad Cities that can claim two decades of experience under their belts. Then at 8 p.m., the Friday-night headliners Diplomats of Solid Sound will showcase their blend of old school funk and soul, their music having appeared in dozens of hit TV shows and movies throughout their 20-plus years together.

On Saturday, the Main Stage fun kicks off at 11 a.m. with the Iowa City Community Band delivering a mixture of marches, music from Broadway musicals, and old favorites, sometimes featuring a guest soloist. Eastern Iowa's powerhouse performers the Bernemann Brothers follow at 12:30 p.m. with rock, roots, and classic country, while local trio Casual Disasters plays at 2 p.m., followed by the Talking Heads tribute artists of Heads in Motion, at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, the critically acclaimed roots/rock/reggae outfit Natty Nation takes the stage at 6 p.m., followed by headliner Escovedo at 8 p.m.

Sunday features several first-timers on the Summer of the Arts stage. Charlotte Blu, who makes her Iowa Arts Festival debut at 11 a.m., first gained national attention when she auditioned for The Voice, and has since continued to perform across the country, showcasing her soul and blues roots. Brazilian Nights takes the stage at 12:30 p.m., the trio led by Orquesta Alto Maiz's Ed East, whose band is set to perform at the 2023 Iowa City Jazz Fest later this year, while the Iowa Arts Festival closes with a 2:30 p.m. performance by the Iowa City ensemble Swampland Jewels.

In addition to the 100-plus visual artists showcasing and selling their creations on Washington, Clinton, and Dubuque Streets, an Emerging Artist Area featuring student work will be on display Saturday and Sunday in the Old Capitol Mall. There will also be performances and childrens' activities on the Ped Mall Stage Saturday and Sunday, and visitors can enjoy Fun Stops on Clinton Street, a Beverage Garden, and a variety of culinary delights, as well as some surprises, throughout the weekend.

Admission to downtown Iowa City's 2023 Iowa Arts Festival taking place from June 2 through 4 is free, and more information is available by visiting SummerOfTheArts.org/2023-iowa-arts-festival.festival.

Support the River Cities' Reader

Get 12 Reader issues mailed monthly for $48/year.

Old School Subscription for Your Support

Get the printed Reader edition mailed to you (or anyone you want) first-class for 12 months for $48.
$24 goes to postage and handling, $24 goes to keeping the doors open!

Click this link to Old School Subscribe now.

Help Keep the Reader Alive and Free Since '93!


"We're the River Cities' Reader, and we've kept the Quad Cities' only independently owned newspaper alive and free since 1993.

So please help the Reader keep going with your one-time, monthly, or annual support. With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted, and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage." - Todd McGreevy, Publisher