Thousands swarm to Jazz Festival


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As the smell of funnel cake and grilled burgers filled the air, the Iowa City community filled up with diversity, laughter, and loud music.

The Iowa City annual Jazz Festival — a three-day event — concluded Sunday evening, and from the brilliant Fourth of July fireworks to the relaxing music, most people couldn’t find anything to complain about.

“I like seeing the entire community and people of different age groups enjoying the shops and food,” said UI graduate student Sarah Dees.

The 2009 Jazz Festival is estimated to have had a turnout rate of approximately 50,000 people, the same that last year’s had despite the flooding. Many noticed a refreshing dose of diversity.

Dees said having access to good music and the central location were some of the many perks. The same sense of community brought Jayme Biche back to the festival for five years running.

The UI alumna said she attended each day this year enjoyed the peaceful environment in Iowa City.
“Besides the music, being able to be down here and make friends, and the sense of community” are some of the things she enjoyed, she said, and the fireworks are a great thing to watch as well.

Prospective graduate student Jayoung Han has been to many festivals in her native Seoul, South Korea, but she said the Jazz Festival makes her feel closer to the community because it is a small one.

The difference from a big city to a university town has left her with a good impression.
“Coming here, I could enjoy the calm lifestyle,” Han said.

Calm and relaxing seemed to sum it up.

Bringing many people back, or bringing new people in, the Jazz Festival continues to have a joyful impact on many, attendees said. Everywhere downtown, children played, people danced on the Pentacrest lawn, and even shared food with their dogs while making friends. The beautiful weather seemed to add to the good spirits.

“It’s nice because it’s not crowded and there is a lot of food,” said Mary Wolter, who came to the festival from Madison, Wis.

Wolter said her son is a jazz guitarist, which brought her back to the festival. She noted Iowa City has changed from when she used to visit her husband, who attended law school at the UI. There are noticeably more bars in the area now, she said.

But on Sunday evening, the only din in rowdy downtown Iowa City were smooth jazz tunes.

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