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50 Years Since Woodstock, Iowa's Music Festival Scene Thrives

Music festival fans in Iowa found a lot to love this summer, with a mix of established festivals and new ones popping up around the state. Why are these festivals so appealing? Enter a well-planned music festival, and it can feel like you’re stepping into another world. One full of adventure, inspiration and escape. 

During this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks about music festival culture in Iowa with Iowa Music Coalition Executive Director Jarin Hart, who helps plan 80/35, and the organizer of Hinterland, Sam Summers.

We also hear from Paul Lasley, a sociologist at Iowa State University who grew up attending bluegrass festivals with his parents. He plays the upright bass and raised his own daughters going to those events. He says festivals play a very specific role today in the state and always have. 

Lasley studies rural Iowa and says that the growth of the music festival scene seems like a millennial version of the town festival.  Every small town across the state has their own celebration, be it Panorama Days, Old Settler’s Days or Watermelon Days.

Another guest, Max Wilkening of Sigourney, drove his bus named Hal to a dairy farm in Bethel, New York in 1969. He tells us what he experienced at Woodstock fifty years ago. 


  • Max Wilkening, Woodstock festival goer
  • Jarin Hart, Executive Director of the Iowa Music Coalition, Organizer for 80/35
  • Sam Summers, Organizer for Hinterland
  • Paul Lasley, Professor of Sociology at Iowa State University
Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa