Grinnell College invites curious minds of all ages to June 15 Summerfest

Voice Play shares the harmony in an a cappella performance that combines songs from different eras with humorous on-stage theatrics.
Voice Play shares the harmony in an a cappella performance that combines songs from different eras with humorous on-stage theatrics.

Free activities for all ages on June 15 include creative arts, live music and workshops

GRINNELL, Iowa – Grinnell College’s fifth annual Summerfest will take place on campus from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 15. Summerfest, which is free and open to the public, is a daylong celebration of learning and discovery meant to welcome the community to campus.  

Summerfest offers engaging workshops, lively performances, food trucks, textile arts exhibitions, and creative and educational activities, presented by area cultural groups and Grinnell faculty and staff. 

The evening outdoor performance will feature Voice Play, an a cappella vocal group known for its original, imaginative and humorous harmonies. Voice Play’s show, appropriate for all ages, combines hilarious on-stage theatrics with songs from different eras and musical styles. 

Summerfest events will be held both outdoors and inside campus buildings. In the event of rain, events will be moved inside. Food and beverages will be available for purchase on campus. 

The full schedule is at and a Summerfest campus map is at

Institutions from across Iowa will also offer activities including:

  • Making and playing with giant bubbles
  • Getting up-close and personal with arthropods – including insects, spiders, tarantulas and more – from the Iowa State Insect Zoo
  • Creating string art with the help of the Knotty Nail sign studio
  • Experimenting with henna tattoos with assistance from CultureALL

CultureALL, a nonprofit founded and directed by 1988 Grinnell College graduate Sherry Gupta, is dedicated to helping communities value central Iowa’s culturally rich diversity. Summerfest will feature a new CultureALL program – Open Book – inspired by the International Human Library project

Open Book promotes social cohesion and inclusive communities through stories told up-close and personal. The unique format – where books are people telling their stories and library patrons are engaged listeners – inspires a warm, friendly atmosphere for personal dialogue, even between people with opposing viewpoints.

In addition, three exhibitions of textile arts will open during Summerfest from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. Regular gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The gallery will be closed on July 4. The exhibitions are: 

  • “Fiber Artists of Iowa,” presented by the Craft Guild of Iowa City and the Iowa Federation of Handweavers and Spinners, will continue through July 20. The exhibition will highlight the expertise, imagination and techniques of 23 artists who reside in Iowa. Works will include pieces of wearable art, weaving, surface design, quilting, basketry, fiber sculpture, mixed media and other fiber expressions. 
  • “Summer Gems,” presented by the Jewel Box Quilt Guild, will run through July 27. The exhibition includes more than 90 quilts by 34 guild members. In addition, guild members will sell small textile items and collaborate with Faulconer Gallery to offer hands-on activities for chuildren and families during Summerfest. The guild will also raffle a quilt titled “Summer Lovin’.”
  • “Quilts of Valor®,” a one-day Summerfest exhibition in Cooper Lobby at the Bucksbaum Center. Volunteers make personal quilts for veterans and service members across the country. Four “Quilts of Valor” will be presented to veterans at 4:30 p.m. in Cooper Lobby. 

Also, Grinnell College faculty will present interactive workshops on a wide array of topics, such as:

  • “When What Matters is Dark,” an exploration of dark matter, the role it plays in the universe and current scientific efforts to understand it, presented by Assistant Professor of Physics Charlotte Christensen
  • “Garden Compost,” a tour of the Grinnell College Garden, explanation of methods and crop selection, and a demonstration of how to build a simple compost bin for home gardeners, presented by student staff and Professor of Anthropology Jon Andelson, a 1970 Grinnell graduate who directs the Center for Prairie Studies.
  • “Civil War Songs: Warfare, Politics and Social Conflict,” an opportunity to listen to history through slave spirituals, election chants and war songs of the Union and the Confederacy, presented by F. L. Parker Professor of History Sarah Purcell, a 1992 Grinnell graduate and chair of the Department of History.
  • “The Secret World of Diaries and Journals,” an examination of the form, how to take a personal journal to the next level, and the value of reading diaries long after they are written, presented by Professor of English Paula Smith.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information about parking and accessibility is available on the college’s website: Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or

Minors under the age 18 need to be accompanied by an adult. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus.


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