Marion's Uptown Getdown still is happening this year, but it's a touring event to limit crowds

This year's concert series will travel to three locations each Thursday night in August

Craig Erickson jams on his guitar as Funk Daddies perform as part of the Uptown Getdown concert series in City Square Pa
Craig Erickson jams on his guitar as Funk Daddies perform as part of the Uptown Getdown concert series in City Square Park on Thursday, August, 1, 2013 in Marion, Iowa. The concert series runs on Thursday nights through August 22. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Marion’s Uptown Getdown will be going on the road in August in hopes of playing to smaller crowds.

During this year’s event, called “Uptown Getdown: The Road,” each week’s featured band will travel to three locations around Marion in one night, performing identical sets to keep crowds smaller and socially distant.

“We just knew we couldn’t do it in the (City Square) Park,” said Jill Ackerman, president of the Marion Chamber of Commerce. “We just thought of different ways. We still think there is something about live music that kind of elevates everyone’s’ mood. We didn’t want to have the Marion community miss out on that.”

The chamber partnered with Culver’s Garden Center to supply a large trailer and had it rigged up with sound equipment. The chamber previously tested this for the Fourth of July.

Tami Schlamp, director of member services for the Marion Chamber, said this year’s event will have each band begin at Lowe Park at 5:30 p.m. The band will play a 40-minute set, then head to Thomas Park to play at 6:30 p.m. It will play another 40 minutes, then play its last set at Willowood Park near the Marion pool at 7:30 p.m.

Schlamp said the intention is not to have people follow the band to each park, but to spread out people among the three parks. Some locations will allow the audience to remain in vehicles while watching and listening to the show, but each location allows for people to remain socially distant.

“The intention is to go to the one nearest you or the time that works best for you or the one within your comfort level,” Schlamp said.

The shows happen each Thursday in August, as has been the tradition in Marion. Schlamp said another important reason to adapt and not cancel this year’s concert series was to support the musicians.

“It was important for us to not cancel on our bands,” she said. “They’ve lost all of their shows. We did want to make sure we could involve them and do something in that respect.”

At typical Uptown Getdowns, there usually is an area in front of the stage where people gather and dance throughout the evening. Schlamp said concertgoers will have to adapt their dancing practices, as well.

“People will be encouraged if they want to get up and move, they can do that in their own space,” she said. “A dance area will not be encouraged. We will block off the trailer a ways out so people can’t approach” the bands.

Uptown Getdown schedule

Aug. 6 — Bamboozlers

Aug. 13 — Katie & The Honky Tonks

Aug. 20 — Bootjack

Aug. 27 — Casting Call

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