Sioux City celebrates a diverse history with a first-ever music festival
Food, art, history, and many genres of music will be the focus of Sioux City’s Sounds of West 7th Festival.
Community Inclusion Liaison Semehar Ghebrekidan said it’s the town's first public gathering where people can hear rock-and-roll, blues, gospel and jazz.
“I think it's just important to be able to celebrate all the diversity of this community," she said. "And I think music is a really simple, fun way to do it. Pairing it with food makes it even better."
Ghebrekidan said the event combines the past and present of the city.
“We actually have one of the jazz club owner’s nephews who worked in one of the clubs that were prominent on West 7th coming, and we're excited just to talk with him, meet with him, reminisce with him," she said. "It's a little bit of the past meeting the new.”
West 7th Street in Sioux City was historically known as a hub for members of the Jewish, Black and Asian communities.
“We can't ever forget the original people of this community, right? The Indigenous community. Obviously, it looks a lot different now than it did. But sometimes, when we walk around, there are some buildings that are well-documented as to what they are and what was in there before. And there are others that history is forgotten," she said.
The Sioux City Public Museum is also planning a walking tour of the neighborhood to highlight that history.
Ghebrekidan said the festival is an easy way to connect with people and start having conversations that go beyond fun.
“I think we're all working on engaging with people who aren't like us, and sometimes it's hard to know how to, and I feel like music is just the way to people's hearts,” she said.
She encourages communities across the state of Iowa to organize similar celebrations.
“I think it's important to have different events that are multicultural, that bring different community members out and about because I think we're all working on engaging with people who aren't like us," Ghebrekidan said.
The Sounds of West 7th Festival is planned for Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Yummi Blox at 700 West 7th Street.