Part 1 of this series ends with the weekend prior to the official start of summer. It’s the last weekend before West ‘boji transforms into one giant bar and West Lake Park becomes your home-away-from-home until September.
With the arrival of the summer solstice the evening before, Friday, June 22 marks the first full day of summer and Day 2 of Junetopia at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. Junetopia, while technically not “new,” is bigger than ever in its fourth summer, hopping venues on both sides of the Mississippi from June 21 through June 23 (day 1 kicks off at Rozz-Tox in IL at 6 p.m. with some folk-hop from Ceschi Ramos).
As in ‘topias past, all proceeds after venue and performer fees are split between Kings Harvest Pet Rescue and No-Kill Shelter and Kings Harvest Ministries and Humility of Mary Housing, Inc.
Right next door to The Figge is The River Music Experience’s Redstone Room, where Human Perpetual Motion Machine Alan Sweet of All Sweat Productions has put together a tribute to King of Pop Michael Jackson featuring all our favorite local musicians. All tables have already been reserved, but tickets are still available for the 8 p.m. Get ‘em while you can.
After such a busy night, spend June 23 in picturesque Le Claire for a charming, down-home SMACKDOWN: Food Truck Fight 2018 starts at noon with over a dozen food trucks converging on one of the best-known (see: American Pickers) of the small towns that encircle the Quad Cities. For just $5 general admission, you get access to foods of all kinds made by professionals all bringing out their best work. Each truck will also have at least one $2 item so you can try some of everything without dipping into your retirement fund.
Other improvements to this year's event include even more entertainment for the kids, such as bounce houses (yes, plural) and a magician. Kids 12 and under are free, and there will be something to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Of course, last year The Hot Dog Guy had a line 30 people deep all day long.
If that thought scares you, you might want to opt for the VIP ticket. At $25 each, you’ll get 1-hour early admission, two free beer tickets, and some swag that includes a koozie. Because this is an outdoor summer event in Iowa. You. Need. A. Koozie.
Speaking of which, the 23rd is also the last day local travel company altSTATES’ QC Brewery Excursion includes Blue Cat Brew Pub. Don’t be sad, though. altSTATES will still offer brew tours that include Great River, WAKE, and industry newcomer Five Cities. Other weekly-ish events include winery visits with local musicians and free historical walking tours. They even have something especially for the brave and the bold: Vanpool Karaoke. If you have out-of-town visitors this summer, altSTATES has small group activities all season long.
Sunday is brunch day, and on June 24, the Bix Bistro hosts its Give Back Brunch at Hotel Blackhawk, donating 10% of its brunch profits to Habitat for Humanity. The brunch is a little under $25 for each adult, which sounds a bit pricey until you take into account the unlimited mimosas and bloody marys. Enjoy some hair of the dog while you listen to Josh Duffee’s Jazz Quartet from 9 until 1.
Though the brunch supports a good cause, you’re probably going to feel a little sluggish after all that food and booze. Drop in at Indigo Wellness Hot Yoga at 6 p.m. for a round of Hip-Hop Hot Yoga Flow. For the regular drop-in rate of $13, a one-hour session will help get you all detoxified in time for work on Monday.
The Triple Crown Whiskey Bar and Raccoon Motel has a special treat for us on June 29: Ruby Boots is coming all the way from Perth, Australia to promote her second album, and show us what Americana music sounds like from an outside perspective. She’s even playing with folk rocker and revolutionary Reuben Bidez out of Nashville. It's gonna be wild.
If you’re more into dancing and/or kid-friendly fare, RME’s Live at Five is bringing Dan Hubbard and his whole band to the courtyard for a couple of hours. Everything’s better outside.
Meanwhile, Front Street Brewery will tap its Mexican Chocolate Coffee Red at precisely 5 p.m. If you time everything right, you can hit all three events – just get a sitter for the kids before you head to the Raccoon Motel.
June 30 is the perfect day to hit the Freight House Farmers Market to try out the Streets of Italy’s breakfast pizza. While they make authentic woodfire pizza at the market all summer long, this day includes a Lots of Brunch! event from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. This is an unofficial event in that it’s not included on the Freight House Farmers Market website, but in many ways, that makes it even better – this is a time when vendors try out new products and recipes. You may be among the first to sample the next area favorite!
If you’re still feeling experimental later in the day, the West Locust Hy-Vee in Davenport has invited Cookie Monster to visit between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to help his friends decorate their very own personalized fruit pizzas.
After hanging out with Cookie Monster, reward your teenager for keeping the eye-rolling to a minimum: drop them off at Angelica Paints LLC (but, like, a block away so their friends won't see them get out of a minivan) where they’ll enjoy a glow paint party! This event is unique and includes a photo booth and prizes for attendees as well as food and glow accessories.
Finally, parents can relax at the end of the day with Ryan and the Moonshiners at the Mississippi River Distilling Company and Cody Road Cocktail House in Le Claire from 4-7 p.m., or head back to the Raccoon Motel, where The Banditos of Alabama headline with openers Mobley and Riley Downing.
The final day of this weekend is actually in July, and as long as we’re cheating, we might as well take it one further: The Riverboat Twilight offers a two-day cruise beginning on Sunday, July 1. The route takes passengers from Le Claire to Dubuque and back again, with an overnight stay at the Grand Harbor Resort. Six meals plus snacks are included in the fare (as well as the Grand Harbor accommodations). This cruise is an opportunity to rediscover the natural beauty and historical significance of the Mighty Mississippi and of Iowa itself.
These cruises actually leave on Sundays, Thursdays, and Tuesdays all summer long, but this July 1-2 route is the perfect one: you will have established your summer routine, yet the novelty of the season will not have worn off. The evenings offer cool breezes while afternoons are warm and sunny. No one wants to go on a river cruise in August. That’s a recipe for divorce.
Though this list of things to do in June was so massive as to warrant two posts, it is by no means exhaustive. These are just the events that sounded especially cool. Correction: these are just some of the events that sounded especially cool. We didn’t even touch on Reefer Madness: The Musical as presented by the QC Theatre Workshop or the BioBlitz at Nahant Marsh Education Center. (A must for any environmental scientist, it's an all-nighter in the marsh and the lab!)
There’s just not enough time or space to give everything due justice. So keep exploring. At any given moment, there is a group of people eager to celebrate and share. Inspiration is just around the next corner.
Image credit: M. N. Hanson