Some say small-town Midwestern life can get a little repetitive, but these 12 Iowa festivals will get you fired up about visiting some of our state’s best small towns. Whether you love live music, enjoy food fairs, or always wanted to dress up as a Vulcan, Iowa has a festival that’s perfect for you.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Tree Town Music Festival
The 2017 Tree Town Music Festival, scheduled for May 25-28 in Forest City, Iowa will feature Bret Michaels, Thomas Rhett, Alan Jackson, Jason Aldean, Big & Rich, Dwight Yoakam, Pur Prairie League, and many more well-loved musicians. The festival address is 1811 Sage Court on the Heritage Park grounds.
Held each year in the Amana Colonies, this year's festival is September 29 and 30, and October 1. The parade is typically on Saturday, followed by games and contests, the Timber Trek 4.3 mile run/walk, live entertainment, demonstrations, and more. Take a ride on the Country Gentlemen's Hours and Carriage Service, see an Old Creamery Theatre Company Production, and enjoy authentic German music bands throughout the festival.
3. Heartland Swing Festival
Ready to dance? This festival goes from Thursday, April 6 to Sunday, April 9 and it's happening at the Val Air Ballroom located at 301 Ashworth Road in West Des Moines. Take lessons with world-renowned instructors, and hear music by NOLA Jazz Band and The Hot Swing Combo. You can get a weekend pass or attend one of the dances.
Held each year at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Vinton, Boomtown is the state's largest pyrotechnics display. 2017 Boomtown is scheduled for August 25-26. You can see the fireworks show for miles around, but the best seats are right in the grandstands. Camping, vendors, concessions, and entertainment is all right there, as well. This show goes on rain or shine.
5. Ice Cream Days
Le Mars, ice cream capital of the world, and home of the Blue Bunny Ice Cream company, has their annual Ice Cream Days celebration on the 2017 calendar for June 14 through June 17. Enjoy live music, Art in the Park, Grill-n-Chill Rib Rally, and three days of ice cream eating mayhem. You can visit the Blue Bunny Ice Cream parlor, located at 115 Central Ave NW in LeMars, any time of year.
6. Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival
Held each winter in Des Moines, this festival is all about the deliciousness of bacon. Located at the Iowa Events Center, this year's festival brought in over 10,000 bacon-lovers from all over the globe. 2018 dates haven't been announced quite yet.
7. Backbone Bluegrass Festival
This music festival is held each year at 1356 110th Street in Strawberry Point. This year, it's scheduled for July 28, 29, and 30th. This family friendly event has plenty of big-name Bluegrass bands playing.
8. Maple Syrup Festival
Live music, pancake and sausage breakfast, syrup tasting, and syrup making demonstrations happen each year at this popular Cedar Rapids festival. It's held at the Indian Creek Nature Center at the conclusion of the year's syruping season. You can visit the nature center year round at 5300 Otis Road, SE in Cedar Rapids.
9. Central Iowa Expo BBQ, Cruise, & Brew
Scheduled for April 25th through the 28th, this BBQ festival has contests, live music, and some of the best BBQ in the state. Admission is free, and there is over $15,000 in cash and prizes.
10. America's River Festival
This festival brought in 12,000 people in 2016. The 2017 festival is scheduled for June 8 through June 10 and Thursday entertainment includes the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Also performing are Styx, Little River Band, Old Dominion, Tucker Beathard, and The Guess Who, to name a few.
11. Rose Festival
2017 marks the 59th annual Rose Festival event in State Center. With a BBQ contest, parade, flea market, car show, live music, fireworks, truck and tractor pull, and (of course) garden tours, this year's festival sounds too good to be true.
12. Trek Fest
Mark your calendar for June 23rd and 24th, and plan to be in Riverside for Trek Fest. Each year the festival grows, so if you are a Trekkie at heart, this is one Iowa event you won't want to miss.
Are any of these Iowa festivals on your calendar, now? Did we miss any great small town Iowa festivals? Tell us about it in the comments.