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Here's your guide to 'newbo evolve'

Thousands expected at signature festival starting Friday

Workers shift the position of the roof skin along the frame of the stage as construction continues Tuesday on the stage for the “newbo evolve” festival in Cedar Rapids. The three-day festival will feature performances by Kelly Clarkson on Friday and Maroon 5 on Saturday. In addition to music, the festival will feature fashion and design, technology, culinary arts and more. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Workers shift the position of the roof skin along the frame of the stage as construction continues Tuesday on the stage for the “newbo evolve” festival in Cedar Rapids. The three-day festival will feature performances by Kelly Clarkson on Friday and Maroon 5 on Saturday. In addition to music, the festival will feature fashion and design, technology, culinary arts and more. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Thousands of festival goers and others just interested in the scene are expected to descend beginning Friday on downtown Cedar Rapids for the three-day “newbo evolve” festival intended to be a signature entertainment and cultural event for the city.

“We are anticipating upward of 10,000 people per day down there,” said Aaron McCreight, president of GO Cedar Rapids, the tourism bureau putting on the festival. “What we don’t know is how many people will be down here without a ticket, without a pass. People who just want to be part of the it.”

The weather forecast for outdoor events looks promising, with highs in the upper 80s and low 90s and sunny to partly sunny skies and no rain — except for Saturday and Sunday overnight, according to the National Weather Service.

NewBo Evolve

Urgent care icon by Bridget Gahagan and police badge icon by lastspark from the Noun Project. Map by John McGlothlen / The Gazette

The festival — part music, part speaker series, part fitness, fashion, food and drinks — opens Friday with a twist as attendees with the three-day passes can downward dog their way into a yoga session with Nigerian Dwarf goats at 10:30 a.m. (meet first at the Cedar Rapids Convention Center) or a spin class at 11 a.m., also at the Convention Center.

Attendees can grab lunch at a nearby restaurants or food truck downtown and then come back to the Convention Center at 1 p.m. for a keynote speech by Amy Newmark, the editor-in-chief of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Whether you’re a foodie interested in a soul food culinary demo with Chef Anthony Green, a fashionista looking for tips from design guru Christian Siriano or a book lover checking out Iowa novelist Heather Gudenkauf, an eclectic mix of sessions continues through the afternoon at the Convention Center.

As the afternoon progresses, attendees will make their way to the New Bohemian District for the main event, a concert by Kelly Clarkson on festival grounds assembled near the Sinclair levee. A catwalk will descend from the stage so performers can engage the audience.

That’s just Friday.

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Saturday and Sunday are also packed with speaker sessions — including film director John Waters, figure skater Adam Rippon and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” star Carson Kressley — and musicians, including Saturday night headliner Maroon 5.

The day portion of the festival — loosely inspired by the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas — is centered on downtown, mainly the Convention Center. Afternoons and evenings shift to NewBo for food, drinks, music and other activities.

NewBorama, a free event — you don’t need the three-day pass — celebrating art, music, shops and more, will be going on outside the NewBo City Market all three days.

“The NewBo area will probably be the busiest,” said Jackie Sturtz, GO Cedar Rapids operations coordinator. “It will have arts all over the area, so that will be the place to be.”

As people move between downtown and NewBo, they can check out pop-up shops operating on the ground level of Town Center, 221 Third Ave. SE. Harp Design, Sephora, Barnes & Noble, the Leather Hand and Born Leaders United are among the shops that will be represented.

Volunteers who have registered to help out at the festival also can check in at Suite 150 of Town Center, across from the pop-up shops. As of Tuesday, 221 volunteers slots had been filled. GO Cedar Rapids initially ought 330 volunteers, but that need has grown to 548.

“We still need beer pourers on Sunday and people for check-in at the speaker sessions,” McCreight said.

Those with three-day festival passes can register at from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday, 8 to 5 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Convention Center.

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The “evolve lounge,” a tented area at the corner of Third Street and 16th Avenue SE, also will have a registration table from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and another registration opportunity will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the gate of the concert venue, which is at Sinclair levee at the south end of Second Street SE.

Food and beer vendors will be set up on in NewBo and inside the concert. An open-container exemption for alcohol also will be enacted in part of the NewBo area.

While some people will walk or bike — a bike parking station with lockers is being set up by the African-American Museum of Iowa — six shuttles will be running Friday and Saturday to get people from the DoubleTree Hotel, as well as the Marriott Hotel on Collins Road NE and the row of hotels on 33rd Avenue SW near Ramada Inn — to New Bohemia.

The free shuttles — four provided by GO Cedar Rapids and two by Park Cedar Rapids — can be picked up at any of the parking facilities downtown, Theatre Cedar Rapids, the entry to Czech Village or the evolve lounge.

Jon Rouse, manager of Park Cedar Rapids, said he is expecting tight parking availability in the downtown lots and street parking spaces, which total 8,000 spots.

“I’d say this will be one of our top three events,” Rouse said. “We have girl’s state volleyball, the nighttime farmers market, and this. By then, this has the potential to be No. 1.”

Rouse noted downtown lots will have event parking rates of $5 for 24 hours while Lot 44 and the southside lot near the federal courthouse nearest NewBo will be $10 for 24 hours. He urged people to give themselves extra time to find a spot, and advised that overnight parking near Greene Square before the Saturday morning farmers market — also a free event to attend — could result in a tow.

In the event a lot is full, check with the parking lot attendant for the next closest lot with availability, he said.

Shuttle services will be available regardless of if you paid to park.

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Police are staffing up for the weekend, much like they would for a concert at McGrath Amphitheatre or the U.S. Cellular Center, said Lt. Charlie Fields, who is one of two commanders in charge this weekend.

Foot patrols and bicycle patrols will be deployed, he said.

At open pedestrian areas in NewBo — where Third Street and 16th Avenue SE, along with other streets, will be closed — concrete barriers will help protect people from vehicles driving into the crowd, he said.

A medical tent across from the concert grounds will treat people who end up suffering from dehydration or heat-related illnesses.

“Anytime people are drinking a lot of alcohol gives us concern,” Fields said. “Our main goal is to have a safe event. We are not out there to arrest people. If people have had too much and need to go home, our goal is to get them to a cab or Uber and get them home safely.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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