Mission Creek Festival 2020 is canceled due to coronoavirus fears

Festival organizers hope to have an event later this year

Gulley Boys guitarist Kathy Callahan and bassist Natalie Klemond perform at the Underground Showcase on April 4, 2019, a
Gulley Boys guitarist Kathy Callahan and bassist Natalie Klemond perform at the Underground Showcase on April 4, 2019, at Gabe’s in Iowa City. The concert was part of the Mission Creek Festival, which has been canceled for this April because of coronavirus concerns. Organizers said Thursday night they are regrouping and hope to put together a festival in late summer or early fall. (James Year/Freelance)

Organizers have canceled the Mission Creek Festival, changing course Thursday night just days after announcing Iowa City’s annual festival of music and literature would go on as planned April 1 to 4.

“Since we last wrote, the public health situation in our area has intensified. With sadness and resolve, we must announce that Mission Creek Festival 2020 will not carry forward in its current form. As such, there will be no public events during the April 1-4 period,” Festival executive director Andre Perry wrote in an online statement.

“We are working with festival artists and authors to set up a special Mission Creek event in the late summer/early fall.”

The statement said the nonprofit plans to release details early next week, including dates and lineup of the new event, and a list of artists from the current lineup who would not participate, along with information regarding exchanges and refunds.

“As a nonprofit organization navigating a challenging period, we are extremely appreciative of any patron who donates the cost of their ticket in lieu of a refund; however, we understand that is not always financially possible,” Perry’s statement said.

Those who would like to discuss refunds immediately can call the box office at (319) 688-2653 when it is open 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday or email

The move came on the heels of an announcement Wednesday that all three of Iowa’s public universities would move to online education after spring break, beginning March 23 and lasting at least until April 3. There has been a cascade of other event cancellations and similar announcements this week.


Across the nation, other festivals have been impacted by coronavirus fears, from the cancellation of South by Southwest in Austin to California’s Coachella festival moving from April to October.

The Mission Creek Festival has a broad impact on downtown Iowa City businesses, with shows spread out at venues and bars across the city.

This was to be the 15th anniversary of the festival, which is produced by The Englert Theatre. Marketing director John Schickedanz said all other scheduled Englert shows are on at this time, but the theater would continue to monitor events.

UI student-run concert booking organization SCOPE Productions, which was partnering with the festival to bring the band Parquet Courts to Iowa City, however, announced on Facebook Thursday that it was suspending all spring programming for the time being.

“We have been so excited to announce shows and bring live music to Iowa City,” to post said. “However, at this time, it is necessary to prioritize the safety of artists, attendees, venue staff and SCOPE members.”

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