NewBo City Market summer activities begin this week

White squares painted on lawn to ensure social distancing

NewBo City Market staff members Joseph Servey (left) and Emily Qual paint 8-by-8-foot squares, 6 feet apart, on the mark
NewBo City Market staff members Joseph Servey (left) and Emily Qual paint 8-by-8-foot squares, 6 feet apart, on the market’s lawn to ensure social distancing during upcoming summer events. (Alexandra Olsen/NewBo City Market)

CEDAR RAPIDS — NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids will start movin’ and groovin’ this summer, with the return of Meet Me at the Market on Thursday (June 25) and Rock the Block on Friday (june 26).

Several events also are in the works for the week leading up to the Fourth of July, including the debut of a new Saturday afternoon concert series.

But COVID-19 is changing the landscape of the outdoor events. Market staff members have painted 99 8-by-8-foot squares, 6 feet apart, on the Market Yard to promote social distancing during concerts and the Thursday wellness events at the site, 1100 Third St. SE.

Meet Me at the Market

Meet Me at the Market will alternate between dance and yoga instruction from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays through September, beginning with Zumba this week and yoga next week.

Classes are free, but donations will be accepted and preregistration is recommended, via links on the market’s Facebook page and Eventbrite. Participation is limited to one person per square on the south lawn, to allow room for movement and a clear line of sight to the instruction onstage.

Other features of the popular wellness program also are changing. Participants still can sign in, but with this year’s later start, points won’t accumulate toward the typical T-shirt reward.

Walking, running and biking groups also won’t be leaving from the market during the event.

“We haven’t quite figured out how to do that with social distancing,” said Alexandra Olsen, director of marketing and development for NewBo City Market.

Instead, routes will be posted online, so participants can follow them on their own schedule.

Rock the Block

During Rock the Block concerts, audience squares can be reserved for $20, accommodating up to six people. Admission has been free in previous years, but the new fee will serve a dual purpose.

“We decided to charge this year as a way to help us support the local bands that we hire to come and play,” Olsen said. “Small businesses have really taken a hit with this pandemic, and the bands are no different.”

Safety is a consideration, too.

“The charge also helps us keep track of how many people are going to show up, so that we can be aware of how many people we can expect, and keep those social distancing guidelines in mind.”

The series runs 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 28, beginning this week with Betty Calling, then continuing with Poor Poor Rich on July 3, Compass Rose on July 10, Laid Back Band on July 17, Sensations on July 24, Full Circle on July 31, Surf Zombies on Aug. 7, Cedar County Cobras on Aug. 14 and Flamin’ Cameros on Aug. 21, with the Aug. 28 band to be announced.

For registration and rules, click on the event links at

Stars & Stripes Week

Since the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival has been canceled, the market has whipped up several indoor and outdoor programs, all with physically distanced spacing. For details, tickets and reservations, go to

• July 1: Andrew’s Bar Exam Trivia, hosted by CRPride, 6:30 p.m., inside the market’s Rotary Hall; $10 per table of six, by reservation only; doors open at 6 p.m.

• July 3: Cooking with Beer class with Lion Bridge Brewing, 6 to 8 p.m., inside the market’s Kirkwood kitchen; $20 off-site virtual class; $35 in-person instruction, in advance.

• July 4: Saturday Afternoon Live concerts debut with Soul Sacrifice, 2 to 4 p.m., using the Rock the Block setup; $20 per group, $25 tables. The series continues with Surf Zombies on July 11, FRIEND on July 18, Brad and the Big Wave on July 25 and Wooden Nickel Lottery on Aug. 1. More dates may be added.

• July 5: Family Puzzle Party with puzzle master Mel Andringa, Market Yard; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; free admission; preregister for noon to 1 p.m. or 1 to 2 p.m. time slots.

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