A history of Iowa City's Mission Creek Festival

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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When Andre Perry arrived in Iowa City in the summer of 2005 from San Francisco, he wanted to be involved on the music scene in Iowa City. He met guitar player and native Iowan Tanner Illingworth. The two often played music together and brainstormed the idea of bringing a music festival to Iowa City.

Perry was introduced to the concept of what is now Mission Creek by a friend from San Francisco, Jeff Ray. Ray jump-started the idea of the Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival in the Bay Area that focused on representing non-mainstream and developing artists in the area.

In March 2006, Perry and Illingworth launched their first festival that followed Ray's mission and brought together a wide range of musicians and writers to the community.

They decided to host the event in the spring because there seemed to be too many other big events happening during other seasons — such as football in the fall and arts events in the summer.

The country is stacked with spring and summertime music festivals, but the intimacy of Iowa City sets it apart from others.

"It would never be something crazy like Lollapalooza, so instead the draw becomes being able to see these people perform in really awesome smaller spaces," Perry said.

Since its beginning in 2006, the festival has grown into an annual, weeklong event that features more than 100 artists from across the country and grabs the attention of more than 5,000 fans from around the Midwest.

This year, Mission Creek will add another element to its already ever-popular music performances and literary readings. For the first time, the festival will include a food initiative to support local growers, vendors, and chefs. Perry said he has wanted to include this element for a few years now and hopes that it is successful and will continue to be part of the festival in the future.

"It seems like food is a really important part of the culture here with good restaurants and chefs," he said. "So we thought it would be good to give space to people who are doing things with local restaurants and food."

For the next several days, Iowa City will experience the high-energy shows of a variety of musicians, the intimate atmosphere of literary readings, and the succulent tastes of local food.

— by Samantha Gentry

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