Downtown Block Party brings 42,000 attendees in second year


Partygoers participate in the volleyball tournament at the second annual Iowa City Downtown District Block Party on Saturday, June 23. The event, which allowed open containers in select downtown areas, attracted thousands of attendees. (Matthew Finley/The Daily Iowan)

An estimated 42,000 people attended Saturday’s Downtown Block Party, up nearly 50 percent from last year’s inaugural event.

No final tallies are in yet for total cups sold, which were for sale for $10 to $11 each and allowed attendees to drink beer and wine on the streets within the event.

“100 percent of the money spent downtown stayed downtown,” Iowa City Downtown District director of operations Betsy Potter said. “The big economic impact is 42,000 people were eating, drinking, and spending money at 100 percent our downtown businesses.”

Brian Flynn, owner of Joe’s Place, said the impact to his business was far greater than it would have been on an ordinary Saturday night in Iowa City. He also felt a greater impact to the bar this year than last year, which saw 30,000 attendees, he said, because of the addition of a rooftop patio at Joe’s Place. With more people downtown, people who had not experienced the rooftop yet had the opportunity to do so, he said.

“It was obviously a good day to a be a business in Iowa City,” Flynn said. “It was very common to football season kind of atmosphere.”

RELATED: Downtown block party comes roaring back to Iowa City

Although construction blocking off much of the Pedestrian Mall inconvenienced this year’s event, Potter said, the party was still a success, which gives her hope for when a similar event takes place later this summer when RAGBRAI comes through Iowa City on July 27.

RELATED: Iowa City RAGBRAI reveals plans, theme

— Katelyn Weisbrod

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