By Lucia Cheng
On September 29, Grinnell’s first ever Prairiepalooza will kick off at noon in Central Park. With a wide variety of snacks, drinks, and most of all, performers, the event has a little something for everyone. The music festival this year will mainly feature country music, with the band Love and Theft headlining.
“We’ve been tossing around this idea of doing a festival for a couple of years now,” says Kendra Tucker, the Marketing and Events Coordinator for the event.
Tucker, who works with the Chamber of Commerce, noted that Grinnell is a mid-way point between Des Moines and Iowa City, making the town the perfect place for touring groups to stop in.
“So we thought, let’s round out the summer with something that is going to be bringing together the community and college students, and give family weekend another activity to add to their schedule,” says Tucker.
“The cool thing about doing an outdoor music festival, specifically in downtown Grinnell, is that you get to bring people to Central Park.”
In fact, the park has had many renovations over the years, becoming a space that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also can be used for a variety of activities.
“Our role in this whole lifespan of the park, of reintroducing it to the community, is helping people, showing them what they can do in this town with the hope that other people will take that on as well and come up with their own ideas and own activities that we can help promote in Central Park as well,” says Tucker.
Prairiepalooza is helping to bring some local performers into the limelight, one of those being the Grinnell-native singer Jake Simon.
“I love this town… This place has done a lot for me. And [playing at the festival] is a small, tiny little ‘Thank you,’” says Simon.
He credits the community with allowing him to follow his passions, who have streamed and shared his music.
“[Grinnell makes] me feel like I’m special, and I’m not trying to be special … When you’ve got such a cool community to support you, they always make me feel like I matter.”
Another performer in the line up for Prairiepalooza is Emma Schaefer ’22.
“I’m realizing more and more how there’s a really good music community in town. I think it’s really exciting to be in a place where people want to [collaborate] … It’s a great opportunity to share my music and get to connect with the locals,” Schaefer said.
Schaefer, who performs with the name Emma Kieran, started creating music when she was in middle school, slowly learning about “how incredible the power of songwriting is to be able to describe the world.”
“Music festivals are such a great opportunity for people to come together,” says Schaefer.
“I really like how music festivals and just like, fan bases of musicians create a united group of people. And I think that this world needs more of people coming together. And music does that.”
Although Prairiepalooza is still a little over a week away, it is gearing up to be a celebration of music, of community, and most of all, of people.
Currently, the event needs more volunteers to help out with general logistics. Those looking for more information can visit the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce website.
Tucker imagines the event’s ideal setting as a beautiful fall day, or “an afternoon where you can come down with your friends. You can catch a couple of bands, get something to eat, something to drink.
“[You can] really just take some time to enjoy our beautiful downtown and all of the hard work that our business and our community members have put in to make sure that Grinnell is a really cool community.”
“You can dance, you can sing along, you can bring a picnic blanket and sit down and watch for hours,” says Schaefer.
“I love music festivals because you get to just be with your friends and listen to music. That’s a fun way to spend your day.”
“They’re going all out. This is gonna be the real thing,” says Simon.
“If you want to come and see us, we’d be worth it.”