Block Party a huge hit



A bartender pours a beer into a block party cup during the Iowa City Downtown District Block Party on Saturday June 25, 2017. The Block Party, hosted by the ICDD was the first use of Iowa City’s changed rules allowing open containers for select events downtown. Open containers were permitted only for beer or wine in the approved glasses. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Public demand for another Iowa City Block Party event is high and officials say it is ‘on the radar’ for next year.

By Daily Iowan staff

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Roughly 8,000 cups were sold June 24 as part of the Iowa City Block Party. Organizers said there were at least 30,000 participants who walked around the Pedestrian Mall and downtown to enjoy live music, a fashion show, sand volleyball, games, and more.

Beer and wine traveled in these cups around the licensed area the result of an amendment to the open-container ordinance that the Iowa City City Council passed in April.

Party-goers gave the event praise on a Facebook post.

“Do we really have to wait a whole year for another one,” Breyanna Duffy wrote. “It was a blast and should be monthly: May, June, July, August, and September. Great event for the whole family.”

Organizers initially estimated 15,000 people would attend, which turned out to be only half of the actual outcome. Downtown District Director Nancy Bird said it was the largest event it has sponsored in city history.

To make the event possible, talent and programming cost $75,000, said Betsy Potter, the Downtown District director of operations. The high cost was risky but paid off, she said.

“We are very pleased with the turnout and even more the response we have gotten from the public following the Downtown Block Party,” Potter said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “We host a number of events and initiatives throughout the year, but this is most definitely on our radar to do again next summer.”

Related: Officials say block party event turn-out was largest in downtown history

Much of the public’s response to the event is a push for one similar, with an amendment on the alcohol ordinance.

“Super, super awesome. Hope you do this again soon,” wrote Jami Brechon. “The fashion show was a [favorite], and the music was so fun. I now have a new hip-hop yoga playlist all ready to go. Really fun night.”

The Downtown District hosts other events throughout the year — some with alcohol in a closed-off area — though none allow alcohol to travel from venue to venue. Those events included Sidewalk sales, Farm to Street, Taste of Iowa City, North Side Oktoberfest, Holiday Campaign, Top Chef, and more.

Potter noted that each event is designed to encourage the economy and positively affect local businesses. 

“Each of these are more than an event but more of a marketing tool to support of businesses in each sector,” Potter said. “If we were to look at using the open-container ordinance for any other events, we would have to evaluate the need and benefits.”

Some attendees noted that there are other places in Iowa City to get a similar outdoor-party vibe to what the Block Party offered.

“Last night [June 24] was not much different than going to a bar and being inside and drinking,” Claire Czerwionka wrote on Facebook. “You still can’t leave a designated area [the Ped Mall] with booze, or you will get a ticket. It was the same a going to Big Grove and hanging out outside. You can’t leave the fenced in area, but you can be outside. I don’t see why we don’t do this all summer!”

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