Iowa City Downtown District's Block Party is Saturday. Here's what to expect from the summer event.

·4 min read

The streets of downtown Iowa City will transform into an outdoor beach, a disco club, and a stage for musicians, drag queens and senior performers this Saturday as the downtown Block Party returns.

The fifth annual summer bash, presented by the Iowa City Downtown District, will bring an evening of free festivities for all ages.

Last year, the downtown district expanded the size of the event due to COVID-19 safety concerns, adding 20,000 square feet for ample spacing.

This year’s Block Party will keep its expanded layout while adding a new tradition to the already robust list of activities.

Here’s what to expect for this year’s event.

Things to do at the Iowa City Block Party: Volleyball tournaments, silent disco and live music

The "Silent Disco" featured three DJs playing unique playlists, each streaming their performances to a corresponding headset in the crowd, during the fourth Downtown Block Party, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Iowa City, Iowa.
The "Silent Disco" featured three DJs playing unique playlists, each streaming their performances to a corresponding headset in the crowd, during the fourth Downtown Block Party, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Iowa City, Iowa.

New to Block Party this year is SCW Pro Wrestling from Davenport. The stage will be held at the intersection of Washington and Linn streets from 5:30-7 p.m. and 8-9 p.m.

Other Block Party classics will return, like Silent Disco, which invites community members to groove to their own tunes through provided headsets. There will be a drag show presented by Studio 13 from 6-7:30 p.m. on Iowa Avenue followed by a fashion show at 8 p.m.

Block Party wouldn’t be complete without a round of sand volleyball or tug-of-war. Sign-ups are available on the downtown district’s website, as well as information on the Blitz and Bullet Chess Tournament, which takes place from 5-8:30 p.m.

Kicking off the performances at the Englert Theatre stage is the band Crystal City, starting at 5 p.m.

Dave Helmer and Sam Drella formed the band in 2009. The rock band has performed with the Cactus Blossoms, Adia Victoria and more.

Following Crystal City is James Tutson and the Rollback. The Iowa City-based band has been busy this summer with performances at the Ranshaw House concert series and an upcoming show through Summer of the Arts’ Friday Night Concert Series.

The rhythm and blues and soul band formed in 2016.

Public Access will perform at 7:15 p.m. The instrumental Midwestern band draws inspiration from renowned guitarists Brian May and David Gilmour, saxophonist Paul Desmond, the rhythm of electronic musician Four Tet and the synth sounds of Daft Punk, according to the band’s Bandcamp.

Rounding out the Englert Theatre stage is headliner Kiss the Tiger, a Twin Cities rock ‘n’ roll band inspired by the “sounds and energy” of the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and Patti Smith, according to the band’s website.

As you head downtown, keep in mind the following road closures:

  • Iowa Avenue from Clinton Street to Linn Street.

  • Dubuque Street from Iowa Avenue to Washington Street.

  • Washington Street from Clinton Street to Gilbert Street.

  • Clinton Street from College Street to Iowa Avenue.

  • Linn Street from the alley north of Iowa City Public Library to Iowa Avenue.

For those 21 and older, Block Party sells event cups so that attendees can purchase and take drinks from downtown bars and restaurants into the streets.

Tickets for cups can be purchased online or the day of for $15, which provides attendees the required cup and a wristband to bring alcoholic beverages out.

Here’s the full schedule of the Iowa City Block Party:

  • "Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0" art installation: all day at the Pedestrian Mall

  • SCW Pro Wrestling Stage: 5:30-7 p.m. and 8-9 p.m. on Washington Street and Linn Street intersection

  • Iowa City Letters: all day on Clinton Street and College Street intersection

  • Roller skating rink: 4-9 p.m. on Clinton Street near Yotopia

  • Bingo games: 4-5 p.m. & 5:30-6 p.m. on the Iowa Avenue stage

  • The Senior Center performers: 5-5:30 p.m. on the Iowa Avenue stage near Elray’s Live & Dive

  • Sand volleyball games: 4-11 p.m. on Clinton Street near the Summit

  • Tennis/pickleball courts: 4-11 p.m. on Linn Street by Joystick Comedy Arcade

  • Beach Area: 4-9 p.m. on Clinton Street near Ewers Men’s Store

  • Ping-pong, cornhole, Jenga and yard games: 4-11 p.m. on Iowa Avenue by Joe’s Place

  • Blitz and Bullet Chess tournament: 5-8:30 p.m. on Linn Street

  • Dueling Pianos: 5-10 p.m. on Washington Street by Target

  • Crystal City: 5 p.m. at the Ped Mall's Weatherdance Stage

  • James Tutson and the Rollback: 6:15 p.m. at the Ped Mall's Weatherdance Stage

  • Public Access: 7:15 p.m. at the Ped Mall's Weatherdance Stage

  • Kiss the Tiger: 8:30 p.m. at the Ped Mall's Weatherdance Stage

  • Silent Disco: 5-11 p.m. on Dubuque Street near Pullman Bar & Grill

  • All-ages video games: 6-8 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library meeting rooms

  • Drag show: 6-7:30 p.m. on the Iowa Avenue stage by Players Sports Bar & Grill

  • Fashion show: 8-9 p.m. on the Iowa Avenue stage by Players Sports Bar & Grill

  • "Crooklyn" outdoor movie: 9-11 p.m. at the Chauncey Swan Park at sunset

  • Tug-of-war games: 9-11 p.m. on Clinton Street near the Summit

Paris Barraza covers entertainment, lifestyle and arts at the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Reach her at PBarraza@press-citizen.com or (319) 519-9731. Follow her on Twitter @ParisBarraza.

This article originally appeared on Iowa City Press-Citizen: What to check out at the Iowa City Block Party this weekend