Maximum Ames Music Festival promises a diverse experience in its ninth year


Photo by James Dean

The band Pink Neighbor performs at London Underground on the first day of the eighth annual Maximum Ames Music Festival on Sept. 27, 2018.

Trevor Babcock

Inclusiveness, understanding and the spirit of doing-it-yourself: three common mantras which forge the partnership between the Maximum Ames Music Festival and Ames Pridefest.

The co-produced events are returning to Ames this September, collaborating to provide a welcoming and diverse experience serving the Ames community.

Maximum Ames Music Festival (MAMF) 2019’s plotted dates, Sept. 5-8, overlap with Ames Pridefest on Sept. 7 coinciding the events for the second time. Last year’s eighth annual MAMF brought over 60 local to international music acts to over a dozen music venues across downtown Ames. The 2018 Ames Pridefest drew over 1,500 people of all identities to Douglas Avenue in support of the LGBTQIA+ community.

This year’s dates, strategically selected during Iowa State football’s BYE week, were revealed last Sunday to cheers and applause at London Underground’s monthly Queers & Beers event.

“I know that we have some converging groups of people here who maybe don’t know a lot about each other,” said Mara Spooner, MAMF organizer and Ames Pridefest co-chair, as she spoke at the front of the bar during the date reveal. “That’s f***ing exciting.”

In 2010, Maximum Ames began as a record label with a mission to provide a safe, inclusive environment to foster understanding through music and celebrate the DIY spirit of art.

Last year, Spooner was approached by long-time friend and Maximum Ames co-founder Nate Logsdon when he and fellow co-founders wanted to step away from organizing MAMF. Spooner was underway producing the 2018 Ames Pridefest, but she immediately wanted to build a team.

“We knew those festivals would both happen in the fall and it just kind of worked really well to work together,” Spooner said. “To have a bigger team of the most people that have the best ideas and the best ability to collaborate with their individual talents to make two concurrent festivals happen in a way that is best for them both.”

Fred Love who does communications and promotion for MAMF says producing the festival in coordination with Ames Pridefest reinforces the Maximum Ames mission.

“We believe that we can improve the Ames community and strengthen the Ames community by bringing creativity and art and music and new opportunities for people in Ames,” Love said. “We think that inclusivity and acceptance are really important for building that vision of what we want Ames to be.”

Love says the goals and missions of both organizations creates a synergy between the two.

Ames Pride, the only queer presence in Ames outside of Iowa State University, was founded out of the need for community in response to the 2016 federal election.

“There were a lot of people that had a lot of anxiety, and a lot of stress, and feelings of fear, and resentment, and the need to be able to work towards something rather than against something,” said Spooner who also serves as vice chair to Ames Pride under chair Tara Andrews. Andrews is a fellow co-chair to Ames Pridefest who helped reveal this year’s festival dates alongside Spooner.

This year’s Ames Pridefest will expand beyond Douglas Avenue to Fifth Street, making more room for vendors and to be more accessible.

“That’s what Ames Pride is about, being as accessible as possible to everybody that we possibly can,” Andrews said.

Andrews says Ames is all about the do-it-yourself spirit.

“If you can think it then you can do it in Ames,” Andrews said.  

“We’re both non-profits that started with just a few people who got together and wanted to do something in Ames, which is what Ames is known for and it’s what we love about it.”

Maximum Ames since its inception has showcased the DIY spirit of Ames says Spooner. The amount of support given by the artist community in Ames is why MAMF gets to happen according to her.

“When we create an event to showcase our peers who have talent and passion it increases their ability to have passion and further their talents,” Spooner said. “Ames is able to support things like Max Ames and Pridefest because it exists in a place that wants it.”

Last year many of MAMF’s live venues used did not normally host live music and some had never hosted live music before, such as arcade bar Time Out, but they wanted to be apart of the festival.

“We’ve got this community of music fans and business owners that want this to be a success,” Love said. “It’s just four days were people can have fun, be themselves, express themselves and hopefully get exposed to music that they wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to. Find something they can really love.”