Summerfest brings community together

Business sponsor tents line Welch Avenue during Ames Summerfest 2013. Each tent provided different activities and information for visitors, as well as treats and games for children.

Levi Castle

The clouds on June 9 didn’t stop the people of Ames from enjoying community activities on Ames’s Welch Avenue. For nine hours, the third annual Summerfest in Campustown brought together music, the arts and the people who enjoy them.

The celebration was located in the 200 block of Welch Avenue, which had been closed off for the festivities. Hosted by the Campustown Action Association (CAA), 2013’s Summerfest began with the introduction of something that hadn’t been done in the prior years: A 5,000-meter run/walk through the neighborhood.

40 minutes after the run began, ISU alums Matthew Miller and Chandra Peterson arrived at the finish line, located at the entrance of the festival. Panting and out of breath, the two high-fived each other in celebration.

“We don’t run nearly enough, but we love small events like this that have us running once or twice a week,” Miller said.

Peterson was a former Director of the CAA, and said she loved participating in what she once helped design.

“I’m so excited we have a run now. It’s crazy to see how much it’s grown now,” Peterson said.

Miller and Peterson said they planned to stay at the festival all day, determined to check out every tent.

Throughout Welch Avenue, there were numerous setups companies such as Perfect Games and Jeff’s Pizza could rent for the day in order to provide entertainment and share their work with the attendees. One tent belonged to the Ames Area Amateur Astronomers club, which displayed brochures, hands-on learning and even real telescopes.

Evan Zerby, a student at Iowa State and instructor in the CyTag summer astronomy class, was at last year’s Summerfest as well.

“Interacting with the public and watching the kids participate in our tour of the solar system activity is one of the best parts of being here,” Zerby said. “When they get back, it’s quite fun to see the expressions on their faces.”

Zerby said the group loves to talk to passers-by about what they study, usually focusing on the sun. In addition to the solar system tour, which demonstrated (to a scale) how far apart the planets are, the club had multiple professional telescopes set up so anyone could take a look at the sky—and even the sun—through a special filter.

Summerfest’s booths were on the sides of the street to allow for the portable stage in the center. There, seven bands played throughout the day to cheering crowds, with the exception of a few who had to move indoors because of weather.

The first band, Stranger than Fiction, played from 12:30-1:30 p.m. The band has been together for a few years, and singer Dell Schmidt said the last six months have found them being a lot more serious about their shows. The band started in Ames and had been getting “more and more gigs lately.”

Schmidt’s family has followed in his footsteps and is part of Iowa State as well.

“The first time I played in public was in 1979 in front of the Campanile for Freak Week. It was kind of a mini Woodstock; I’ve been playing ever since then,” Schmidt said.

“This is our first Summerfest. I didn’t know it existed till this year, but after today I would definitely come back for more in the future. It was great,” Schmidt said.

The band performed many well-known songs from bands such as REM, but Schmidt said that they are planning to implement their own songs into future shows.

“Planning is a large part of setting up Summerfest,” said Liz Jeffrey, chair of the events/promotions committee for the Campus Action Association.

Jeffrey has worked with Summerfest for the last two years and helps write agendas and mapping plans for the festival.

“We’ve been working on this for the last six months. We start planning the next show immediately after the current one ends; we’ve got a brainstorming meeting tonight to see how this year’s show went, and more after that to see what we can do better,” Jeffrey said.