Local musicians will take to the stage inside Czech Village on Saturday (7/28) for the seventh year of 319 Fest, a daylong event that invites the community to enjoy the musical talent of original local bands.
Jason Zbornik, executive director and founder of Nexus Entertainment Arts, the organization that puts on 319 Fest, said the festival started as a much smaller event, with only one or two stages to bring awareness to local musicians and generate excitement surrounding them.
Once word about the festival got out, he said, organizers started having many other promoters, band members and studios that did recordings with local bands reach out wanting to set up their own festival stages.
“It quickly turned into a very community, collaborative-driven music and arts festival, and that has remained ever since,” Zbornik said. “319 Fest isn’t kind of one group does it all. It’s the more people that work together, the more successful it is.”
Each stage is independently run by a management team, he said, but they “all work together to make a cohesive, exciting festival for the city.”
Regional acts from Midwestern states such as Wisconsin and Illinois are venturing to Cedar Rapids to play the festival, Zbornik said, but about two-thirds of the bands come from the Cedar Rapids area.
Cedar Rapids-based alternative rock band In the Attic is set to play, as well as four-piece fast-indie band Hex Girls, hailing from Cedar Falls. Iowa City rock band The Port Authority also will make an appearance.
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Those names are only a sample of the local talent the festival offers. About 50 acts are booked for this year’s festival, Zbornik said, which is about consistent with the number of acts booked each year.
The acts will pack four stages, down from the five featured last year, he said.
The festival will please a variety of musical lovers, Zbornik said, as it is “truly a multigenre festival.”
Fans of indie and rock will not be disappointed, but the festival also features hip-hop, R&B, folk, metal and other local singer-songwriters.
For the first time last year, organizers made the festival free, so Zbornik said they are sticking with that again this year. It had previously been ticketed.
A new feature this year is that people will be able to walk around to the stages with drinks in hand, Zbornik said, because the festival perimeters will be fenced in.
The festival is friendly to people of all ages, he said, but there are many new vendors he anticipates children and families will enjoy, although the event is largely geared toward people in their 20s and 30s.
It’s exciting to be at the forefront of a festival that supports original emerging talent, Zbornik said.
“A lot of the talent may be acts that a lot of people in the general public haven’t heard of, and they’re going to go to the festival, and they’re going to walk away going, ‘Wow, I never knew there was this much amazing music and talent right here in our area,’” he said.
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The festival lets people encounter talent that is largely unknown, he said, while supporting local musicians.
“You’ll get quite the mix and you’ll go away guaranteed that you will discover some new act that you have not heard of, and they’ll become a favorite,” he said. “You’ll pick up their album or download their stuff, and you’ll have a great day discovering something new.”
If you go
WHAT: 319 Fest
WHERE: Czech Village, 16th Avenue SW, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday (7/28)
FEATURES: Four stages of live music, vendors and artists, food vendors, Mega Vibes Interactive Art Projects, trading booths