3 Iowa Music Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss

This summer, don’t fly over the Midwest – party right on through it. Here are three rockin’ music festivals in Iowa that you definitely don’t want to miss.

Low on cash? Lucky for you, they’re all offering free admission for volunteers. So round up your posse, pair up those party pants with your giving galoshes (sorry, we had to) and head out for some happy volunteering!

While you’re perusing, be sure to check out VolunteerLocal’s Music Festival Spotify playlist, showcasing our favorite songs from this year’s headliners of all three major Iowa music festivals!

80/35 Music Festival

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July 10th – 11th, 2015

For many in Iowa’s capital city of Des Moines, the 80/35 Music Festival is a summertime staple. Aptly named for it’s unique (and rather convenient) location along the intersection of Interstates 80 and 35, this festival has earned a stellar reputation for luring high-profile headliners into the heartland. Included in 80/35’s roster of past performers are The Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes, the Wu-Tang Clan and the Avett Brothers.

2015 Headliners: Weezer, WILCO, St. Lucia and Talib Kweli


Hinterland Music Festival

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July 31st – August 2nd, 2015

If you’ve ever lived in, or visited Iowa in the wintertime – you’ll probably get the joke. Playfully dubbed Hinterland, Iowa’s newest festival is out to prove that this Midwestern state is anything but an unchartered, vast and wintery terrian. Set against the backdrop of Iowa’s gorgeous Water Works Park, Hinterland seeks to integrate elements of art, sculpture, craft vendors and cycling into a traditional music festival format.

2015 Headliners: Old Crow Medicine Show, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes


Gentlemen of the Road 

Volunteer Opportunities: Coming Soon!


June 19th – 20th, 2015

This one may sound like a fancy affair, but trust us: no dress pants allowed. Waverly, Iowa was announced as the second stopover city on the GOTR nationwide tour earlier this year, and attendance is expected to triple the population of Waverly for two whole days. No joke. Want to get in on this action? Sign-up for our Happy Volunteering newsletter and we’ll make sure you’re one of the first to know when volunteer opportunities go live.

Headliners: My Morning Jacket, Mumford & Sons, The Flaming Lips, Dawes



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Variety, the Children’s Charity

Sign up to Volunteer at the Beer, Wine & Food Expo!


Photo cred: www.au.timeout.com

Variety, the Children’s Charity is nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the lives of underprivileged, at-risk and special needs children throughout Iowa. Although this organization coordinates a number of “fun”draising events throughout the year (including Telethons, golf tournaments and an annual Black Tie Dinner), Variety is perhaps known best for their Bikes For Kids program, which awards qualified children with a brand new bike, lock and helmet (plus some training on bike safety and maintenance!).

Variety – The Children’s Charity. Sarah Walker presenting kid for bikes. Photo cred: dynamoevents.co.nz

This Friday, community members and advocates have another opportunity to support the great work that Variety does for at-risk children across Iowa. The upcoming Beer, Wine & Food Expo, presented by Hy-Vee, has partnered with Variety to produce an event for the uniquely altruistic, yet cuisine-savvy Iowans across the state.

“The Expo will be a melting pot for culinary enthusiasts throughout the Midwest, offering the opportunity to discover the latest cooking techniques from local and regional culinary experts,” says Tiffany Egli, the Director of Activities at Variety.

“A portion of the event’s proceeds will be donated to Variety, the Children’s Charity.” – Tiffany Egli, Director of Activities at Variety, the Children’s Charity

Photo cred: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/

In addition to the palate-refining, culinary expo, this event will also feature a VIP Shopping Experience on Saturday from 11am-1pm – tailored to the serious wine/beer connoisseur. Attendees for this event will get to sip some fancy wine, chat with chefs and local craft brewers, and learn a few tips to brighten up that Wednesday night casserole – all while supporting a great cause.

“Our success for this (and all our events) would NOT be possible without our dedicated volunteers,” says Egli. “Volunteering for Variety is the difference you make in a child’s life.”


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Photo cred: Des Moines Register

The start of the school year can mean lots of things: new school supplies, new homeroom teachers, even new clothes. For many in Des Moines, however, it’s most importantly a marker for their childrens’ annual health screening, thanks to a program called Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a back-to-school health fair that provides free physicals, dental checks and screenings for local students entering grades K-12.

“Ideally, every family would have a relationship with a family doctor,” says Brianne Sanchez, the event organizer and volunteer coordinator at Jumpstart. “But we know that isn’t always the case. Jumpstart makes sure that every child has access to a healthy start to the school year.”

“You don’t have to be a doctor to volunteer at Jumpstart (although we do have an important role for licensed providers),” says Sanchez. “The majority of our volunteer needs are for hospitality roles: Helping families with registration, making sure the lines are organized and moving smoothly, running supplies and supporting fellow volunteers.”

Jumpstart offers behavioral and mental health screenings, physical check-ups and options for after-school programming. Every attendee receives a free toothbrush, toothpaste and information on how to stay healthy, in addition to a list of community partners who provide school supplies to students in need. Those who qualify can even receive free vaccines.

“Students who face health barriers often struggle with school,” explains Sanchez. “Participation in regular physicals help identify students in need of additional services and attention, and connects families in need with healthcare resources.”

Photo cred: dmu.edu

This year’s Jumpstart takes place on July 26th, from 9am – 5pm at East High School in Des Moines. The Jumpstart program is a collaborative effort of Des Moines University faculty, staff and students, the Polk County Health Department, and – of course – volunteers. Want to get involved? Click here to volunteer today!

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Hy-Vee Road Races

Photo cred: Des Moines Register

The second annual Hy-Vee Road Races at the Drake Relays combines three major distance competitions, a 5K race, a 10K race and a Half Marathon – all in one day.

On Sunday, April 27th, Hy-Vee Road Race runners will storm the streets of downtown Des Moines (earning this event it’s namesake). Runners will start and finish their respective courses at the Drake Stadium, home of the Drake Relays. The Hy-Vee Road Races Half Marathon boasts the largest prize-purse in the world, $80,000, with a total prize-purse of $120,000 for all three races combined.

Photo cred: Hy-Vee Road Races

What makes this event truly special, however, is the impact it has on the Greater Des Moines community. “The Hy-Vee Road Races puts Des Moines on the map,” says Michael Zimmerman, a Hy-Vee Road Races Organizer. “We are fortunate to have a company like Hy-Vee that’s willing to offer a huge prize purse, and willing to work with Drake to bring in this great talent to Des Moines.”

The Hy-Vee Road Races brings together athletes of all types. “There isn’t a separate race for the pros,” says Zimmerman. “Everyone stands at the start-line together, and everybody crosses the same finish line.” In addition to the notoriously large prize-purse for the top finishers of each race, this event offers a lot of good prizes for mini-categories, which Zimmerman believes helps to invigorate the local running community. “Des Moines is really a health-centric community,” he says. “And not just in the way that encourages everybody to healthy, but to make the city itself this mecca of fitness.”

The Hy-Vee Road Races is powered by a rock solid volunteer force. “That’s another great thing about putting on events in Des Moines,” Zimmerman adds. “You get so many people who might not be able to participate in the event – but still look to get involved through volunteering.” Whether it’s distributing medals at the finish line, holding it down as a course marshal or working the gear bag station – volunteers make it all happen for the Hy-Vee Road Races.

There are plenty of volunteer spots available – sign up today and get involved in this spring’s biggest, boldest celebration of athleticism!

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Hello, I’m Theresa!

Hey there people of the internet!

I’m Theresa Kelly, new Content Marketer/Intern/Person at VolunteerLocal hailing all the way from Elk Grove Village, IL or as I’d like to refer to it … “Chicago.”  Currently I’m a senior at Drake University studying public relations, entrepreneurial management and any other class I can take relating to health, the arts or design.


A little about me; behind my new found love for yoga, sick dance moves and smile which all happen to be very mellow sounding, my music playlist tends to lean more alternative. My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge album – love!

As an experienced volunteer and music lover intrigued by Des Moines’ startup community, I am so excited to be a part of the VolunteerLocal team. I get to work with a great team of passionate people in a cool work environment where I get to see technology innovators and big thinkers make ideas come to life every day. Not only that, but the software serves people and organizations who do a variety of really cool things for great causes like Habitat for Humanity, Des Moines Arts Festival and Summer Camp Music Festival.

I’m excited because I know VolunteerLocal is succeeding with the variety of clients we work with and the impact our software has on a client’s event planning experience, yet we still have so much room to grow and be known. The possibilities are endless at VolunteerLocal. I’d like to see our festival clientele grow, get more news media features and in general, generate more conversation with current and potential clients on the web.

If you’d like to connect follow me on Twitter at @teeekelly, on LinkedIn, or take a peek into www.theresa-kelly.com to see some of the other cool things I’ve done, I’d love to meet ya!


–       T

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Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

What kind of event sells 12,000 tickets in 42 minutes, with ticket-holders in 41 states and countries as far away as Brazil, China, Denmark and Puerto Rico? Nope, not Justin Bieber. Not even Beyonce. It’s the annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, and it happens right here in Des Moines, Iowa.

Photo cred: www.kcci.com

Now in it’s seventh year, ‘BaconFest’ (as it is affectionately coined) has become as much a staple holiday as it is a food group to many of its most devoted fans. This year’s BaconFest staff expect around 13,000 bacon enthusiasts in attendance – and when we say bacon enthusiasts, we mean it.

Each year, BaconFest is produced by the fabulous team at In Any Event, a full-service event planning company in Des Moines. “In Any Event started about ten years ago,” says Mindy Toyne, Owner of In Any Event and Event Director for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. “Our first event was Des Moines’ Oktoberfest. Since then, large scale public events have become our company’s core focus.”

Photo cred: Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival was born when the original founders (now dubbed the ‘Bacon Board’) sat down with Toyne over a happy afternoon of drinks and brainstorming to hammer out the concept: a festival to celebrate Iowa beer, Iowa bacon and general buffoonery. “It was pretty popular that first year,” says Toyne, “and the next year it doubled in size.”

The Bacon Board continued organizing the event on their own until it became so large that In Any Event needed to jump back in, this time with VolunteerLocal in their toolbox. “We’re able to partner with VolunteerLocal to fill crucial jobs and shifts during our major events,” Toyne explains. “A lot of times our needs from a staffing standpoint can’t be provided through an internal structure, which is what makes volunteers so important to us.”

For Toyne and the entire Bacon Board, however, it’s about more than just the bacon. It’s about improving the quality of life for Central Iowans, supporting local farmers and building that sense of camaraderie in the Midwest. “Many of these events have charity components to them as well,” adds Toyne. “BaconFest is one that gives a considerable amount of money to a handful of charities every year.”

For more festival or ticket sales information go to www.blueribbonbaconfestival.com, “like” Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival on Facebook, or follow @BRBaconfest on Twitter.


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The American Lung Association

They call it the “Vertical Mile.”

Photo cred: American Lung Association

The American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb challenges it’s participants to climb three consecutive stairwells (totaling 66 flights) in buildings throughout downtown Des Moines. “Participants can choose to climb one, two or all three buildings,” says Renee Searle, Special Events Coordinator for the American Lung Association. “They can do so as an individual climber or with a team.”

On March 16th, 2014 Iowa’s Fight for Air ‘climbers’ will conquer the stairwells of three separate downtown venues: the Downtown Des Moines Marriott (32 flights), the Hub Tower (18 flights), and EMC Insurance Companies (16 flights). “The climbers only take the elevator to go back down the steps and to the skywalks,” says Searle. For many, the skywalks in-between each building are a nice, horizontal break during the climb.

“Thanks to VolunteerLocal we are reaching more potential volunteers and sharing our mission with more people than we could have done on our own!” – Renee Searle, Special Events Coordinator, the American Lung Association

Photo cred: American Lung Association

Last year’s Fight for Air Climb raised over $200,000. These funds are channeled into education, advocacy work, and research for lung disease – a cause that, for many, is more than worthy of this breathtaking feat of vertical prowess. Whether it’s a group of local firefighters who climb the steps wearing all their gear (over 70lbs of equipment), or competitive teams from local gyms completing the climb as a fitness challenge (amen!) – 90% of every dollar they raise goes back to the mission. Pretty impressive stuff.


You might think that coordinating volunteers for an event this large would be an organizational conquest akin to that of climbing 66 flights of stairs. With VolunteerLocal, however, Searle has all the tools she needs to dominate her volunteer recruitment and coordination process.

Photo cred: American Lung Association
Photo cred: American Lung Association

“VolunteerLocal has provided us with a great way to stretch our arms and reach volunteers. It is very user-friendly, easy to set up events and provide all of the details potential volunteers need to know.” Searle began using VolunteerLocal in September. She explains, “I knew right then we would be back for all future events to come.”

Sign up to volunteer for this spring’s Fight for Air Climb in Des Moines!

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Des Moines Junior Chamber

The Des Moines Junior Chamber (Jaycees) is a local group of young professionals in the Des Moines metro who are focused on community service and professional development. Interestingly, the Iowa chapter is one of the oldest in the country. “We’ve been around for 90 years,” says Ryan Anderson, Vice President of the Des Moines Junior Chamber. “And we’re still going strong.”

Photo cred: jcidsm.org

The group encourages its members to take on community projects, pursue their interests and carve out programs with the support of the Junior Chamber staff and resources. “If you have the passion or vision to start something,” says Anderson, “the Jaycees want to enable you to make it a reality.”

Of course, there is no shortage of YP groups in the metro, one thing that Anderson believes strengthens the Des Moines community. “It’s great that there are so many avenues for young professionals to pursue in this area,” he says. “Like all of these organizations, the Jaycees provides its own unique opportunities to empower YPs.”

Among them are the Junior Chamber’s strong relationship with the East Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, their award-winning professional development training programs, and their state and regional conventions. Anderson adds, “we really are a community service focused group. Networking is good, but we want to get our hands dirty and get involved.”

Anderson points to the Jaycees recent partnership with VolunteerLocal’s “Happy Sams” program – an initiative to get more YPs involved in community service throughout the metro, and their pivotal role in supporting  Smiles for Preston, a benefit cook-out for a local child born with the rare neurological disorder, Moebius Syndrome. The group makes monthly community service outings that are driven by the needs of our community.

“I love Des Moines,” says Anderson. “It’s a place with a constant open-door policy. City leaders are attentive to our community’s new ideas and progressive projects; they’ve done a great job embracing young professionals and we’re happy to be operating here, in the heart of it all.”

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The Hy-Vee Triathlon

Triathlons are some of the most grueling, challenging, and yet intensely satisfying physical feats an athlete can accomplish. Just ask the thousands who participate in the annual Hy-Vee Triathlon right here in Des Moines, Iowa. This year’s race is scheduled to take place on September 1st (the Sunday before Labor Day).

Variety Children’s Charity


Started in 2007, the Hy-Vee Triathlon has since become one of Iowa’s premiere athletic events. Every year, racers travel from across the nation to run, swim and bike the state’s capital city.

In addition to it’s powerful economic impact in Des Moines, the Hy-Vee Triathlon has sustained a long and rich tradition of charitable giving; specifically to Variety – the Children’s Charity (with over $750,000 raised leading into this year’s race).


Photo cred: www.pictureiowa.com

Hy-Vee works hard to encourage good health, positive lifestyle choices and mental wellness in its employees, patrons and communities everywhere. Hy-Vee grocery stores boast a wide selection of organic foods, on-site dietitians, health fairs and (in some locations) even fitness centers. “The world-class Hy-Vee Triathlon is one more example of Hy-Vee’s commitment to providing family-oriented community events while promoting fitness and encouraging healthy lifestyles,” Variety’s Executive Director, Sheri McMichael, says.

Want to get involved (without breaking a sweat)? Become a volunteer. This weekend’s race still needs more helping hands – from kayaking to water stations, bike course marshals to body marking, there are plenty of ways to still get involved!

Sign-up today to help make this year’s Hy-Vee Triathlon the best yet!


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Volunteer Appreciation Party

“Where is the love?” – Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas

The Des Moines Arts Festival and the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition are partnering with VolunteerLocal and the Des Moines Junior Chamber to throw a volunteer appreciation party in downtown Des Moines. Come on down to the Riverwalk Hub at 6pm on Wednesday, July 24th for some good food, good tunes and good old fashioned gratitude! Live music, craft beer and hotdogs – oh, glory!

WHAT: Volunteer Appreciation Party

WHEN: Wednesday, July 24th from 6-10pm

WHERE: The Riverwalk Hub in downtown Des Moines

WHY: We <3 Happy Volunteers

Enjoy the live musical stylings of Smilin’ Otis (from 6-8pm) and The Sheet (from 8-9:35pm) with a hotdog in one hand a craft beer in the other. Please note: this event is NOT exclusive to volunteers-only! Bring your friends, tell your mom!

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