116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A flock of seagulls will be swooping into McGrath Amphitheatre soon. But these songbirds won’t be swiping your meal or otherwise wreaking havoc on The Roundup.
This Flock of Seagulls will be among the bands turning back time, during a weekend of classic rock and ’80s hits onstage June 24 to 26.
And never fear — even though “BBQ” has been dropped from the event title, four national touring competition vendors will be on site, dishing up those lip-smacking, flavor-soaked ribs, brisket, pork, chicken and other meaty delights and sides.
On board are Blazin’ Bronco BBQ from Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Carolina Rib King from Spartanburg, S.C; Cowboys BBQ & Rib Co. from Fort Worth, Texas; and Porky Chicks BBQ from Fayetteville, Ark.
“It’s barbecue you can’t get every day in Cedar Rapids or Eastern Iowa,” said Katie Ripke, director of marketing and communications for Venue Works, which manages the amphitheater along the Cedar River downtown. She added that as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, more vendors may return next year.
As in the past, vendors will be vying for various honors, including the People’s Choice Award. But this year’s event, sidelined last year by the pandemic, has several new twists.
What: Barbecue and music festival
Where: McGrath Amphitheatre, 475 First St. SW, Cedar Rapids
When: Food Court opens 11 a.m. June 24 to 26; Music Park opens at 6 p.m. June 24 and 3 p.m. June 25 and 26
Music: The Blooze Brothers, June 24; Catfish Murphy, Pure Prairie League and Orleans, June 25; Surf Zombies, Naked Eyes and A Flock of Seagulls, June 26
Admission: Free for Food Court, pay for food; Food Court plus concerts, $10 to $40 VIP; creventslive.com/events/veue/mcgrath-amphitheatre
Admission is now free to the vendor portion of the grounds, where diners can peruse the stands and pay for their meals. Vendors will be in the grassy area near the venue’s entrance, separated from the ticketed Music Park in front of the stage.
“It’s a new brand, and an evolution of the event as a whole,” Ripke said. “Historically, we’ve focused more on the barbecue aspect of it, and there will still be national vendors on site. However, we’re focusing a lot more on the music that we’re bringing in — bringing in some national touring acts that you can’t see every day in Cedar Rapids.”
The Blooze Brothers, a tribute to the 1980 cult classic film starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, will rock the stage June 24; Waterloo-area band Catfish Murphy will open for Pure Prairie League and Orleans on June 25 for Classic Rock Night; and Cedar Rapids-based Surf Zombies will make sure no one is undead before Naked Eyes and A Flock of Seagulls land onstage June 26 for ’80s Night. (Men Without Hats couldn’t make it for ’80s night, because of COVID travel restrictions — a safety dance, so to speak — so Naked Eyes is stepping in.)
‘Amie, what you want to do?’: Pure Prairie League’s Mike Reilly talks to The Gazette
You might even see The Blooze Brothers tooling around town June 24, using a bullhorn to make their presence known, Ripke said.
“Nostalgia sells very well in this area,” she noted, and she’s hoping audience members gel up their hair a la the Seagulls in their heyday.
The festival also has been shortened to three days, instead of four, so the typical Sunday afternoon Family Day and kids’ activities will not be offered, since concerts typically don’t feature kids’ amenities.
“We’re focusing on the music this year,” she said, with the event being dubbed “The tastiest music festival in Cedar Rapids.”
After bouncing around several downtown sites, the flavorful festival landed at the new amphitheater in 2014, and it’s been a popular move with presenters and audiences.
“The amphitheater is obviously a beautiful venue, and everybody loves events down there,” Ripke said, citing feedback from attendees praising its location, the city skyline and riverside backdrops. “It’s just a unique atmosphere, and with Kingston Village exploding, you can make an entire night of it, with all the attractions.”
Those with general admission tickets for The Roundup concerts can come early and stake out their blankets and bag chairs, then move outside the gate to explore the barbecue offerings and bring them back in. They won’t be able to bring in other outside food, but drinks and adult beverages will be sold inside the Music Park.
The festival traditionally draws 10,000 visitors over four days, and in light of the pandemic, it’s hard to gauge attendance for this year.
“It’ll be a learning experience, but the year-and-a-half that we’ve had, we’re anticipating a very good attendance, especially based off how ticket sales are going for the rest of our events,” Ripke said.
“By now you’d think we’re cannibalizing ourselves, with all the acts that we’re announcing — and they’re all selling fantastic. So we anticipate having a very good crowd for this, especially if the weather continues to hold out.”
Comments: (319) 368-8508; email@example.com