North Iowa kicks off summer right with festivals, art, music, and a little history. The best is right here.

Band Festival celebrates 79 years of entertaining N. Iowa

Start your weekend early with the 79th annual North Iowa Band Festival, which begins Thursday, May 25, in Mason City.

Tonight's entertainment begins at 6 p.m. in the Downtown Plaza (weather permitting), featuring the Mason City Middle School Band and the season-opening performance of the Mason City Municipal Band.

The municipal band is conducted by Russ Kramer, with guest conductor David Rutt and announcer Bob Fisher. The performance begins at 6:45 p.m., and will include such favorites as "The Star Spangled Banner," "The North Iowa Band Festival" march (Berryman), Meredith Willson's "Seventy-Six Trombones," and "America, The Beautiful," pluse "With Quiet Courage," conducted by Rutt, the Bandmaster Award winner.

The Mason City Municipal Band’s next concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 1, on the north plaza of Southbridge Mall.

The main stage for the weekend's entertainment will in front of the Commerce Center, 9 N. Federal Ave. People are invited to bring lawn chairs. All concerts are free.

On Friday, the MCHS Mohawk Danzers will perform in front of the Main Stage at 5 p.m., with the MCHS Orchestra performing on the Downtown Plaza at 5:15 p.m. The Thrillbillies take the main stage at 6, followed by Chris Hawkey at 8.

On Saturday, the Newman High School Dance Team will perform at 1 p.m. in front of the Main Stage, with the MCHS Jazz Band performing at 1:15 on the Plaza, prior to the 2 p.m. awards ceremony. Saturday evening’s entertainment will be on the Main Stage, with Betty and the Gents at 5 p.m., followed by The Pork Tornadoes at 7.

For more information, visit www.nibandfest.com.

Tree Town brings stars, rising stars to Forest City

Tree Town Music Festival is set to deliver a Memorial Day weekend packed with non-stop entertainment, with a lineup of superstars and rising stars performing nightly at Heritage Park in Forest City.

The fourth annual, four-day festival kicks off tonight, May 25, and nightly headliners include Bret Michaels, Thomas Rhett, Alan Jackson and Jason Aldean.

Produced by Basis Entertainment, the festival has two stages with entertainment scheduled throughout each day. Other acts scheduled to perform May 25-28 include Big & Rich, Dwight Yoakum, Chris Young, Tucker Beathard, Love & Theft, High Valley, plus The Hepperly Brothers, Pure Prairie League, Jake McVey, Luke Bell, Adley Stump, David Ray and William Michael Morgan.

Single day tickets are available as well as campsites and VIP ticket packages. General four-day admission tickets are $175. For tickets and information, visit www.TreeTownFestival.com.

Surf Ballroom hosts rock 'n' roll and illusion 

The Surf Ballroom & Museum will be busy this weekend, with rock 'n' roll and magic.

On Friday, May 26, American rock band FUEL will take the stage, with special guests Dishwalla and Marcy Playground. Doors open at 8.

On Sunday, May 28, it's renowned illusionist Rick Thomas.

Fuel formed in 1993 while playing the club circuit in and around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The band signed to Sony Records and in 1998 released its debut album "Sunburn" with the hit single “Shimmer." "Something Like Human" took the band to a new level, hitting multi-platinum status driven by the singles “Innocent” and “Hemorrhage." In 2003, with the release of "Natural Selection," the band had sold more than 3.5 million records in the U.S., and headlined its own sold-out tours.

In 2014, Fuel released "Puppet Strings." Catapulted by the single “Soul To Preach To,” the album entered the Billboard rock charts at no. 1. 

Tickets are $24 in advance or $29 at the door. Doors will open at 8 p.m.

Thomas, one of the greatest and most successful illusionists in the world today, has completed five world tours covering more than 50 countries. From sold out shows at Caesars Colosseum, headlining the Sydney Opera House in Australia and performing both in Las Vegas and on Broadway, Thomas entertains millions of people across the world with breathtaking and spectacular magic.

Thomas weaves magic, music, comedy and dance into a seamless spectacle. Honors include “Magician of the Year” by the Academy of Magical Arts and Magic’s highest recognition "Illusionist of the World" by the World Magic Awards. He has been featured on numerous national television specials, and is a renowned Las Vegas performer, performing a staggering 600 shows a year.

Tickets are $23 in advance, $28 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the seated show.

Surf Ballroom box office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with additional hours Memorial Day through Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Tickets may be purchased by calling 641-357-6151 or on-line at www.surfballroom.com.

Clarion's Heartland Museum hosts a special exhibit

"It Takes An Iowan," an interactive display created by Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, opens Memorial Day weekend at the Heartland Museum in Clarion.

Created for the 2015 Iowa State Fair, it was ranked number seven on the fair’s list of “Top 11 at the Fair.”

Visitors will learn Iowans are not only leaders in agriculture, but also in education, technology, communication, legislation and transportation. It features interviews and commentary from Iowa farmers, educators, inventors and agriculture leaders, including Iowa native and former United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The exhibit will continue through June. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children 13 and younger. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 3 p.m. Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend.

Visit photographer Craig Kienast's exhibit in Clear Lake

Explore "One Second in Florence," an exhibit by Clear Lake native Craig Kienast, in the Hanson Gallery at the Clear Lake Arts Center, 17 S. Fourth St.

On display through mid-June, it will feature an Artist’s Walk-about at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 13. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

On a recent trip to Italy, one city stood out more than the others to Kienast. It was the architecture, the people and the hustle and bustle of Florence - the home of the Renaissance - that caught his glance. With his camera set at one-second exposures, Kienast set out to capture the feel of Florence. The result is an exhibition that plays with the juxtaposition of color, motion, texture and time.

Kienast became interested in photography when his older brother, Val, gave him his first camera. Val needed help documenting geological findings for his college thesis.

Kienast attended Hawkeye Community College after high school. Immersed in photography as a vocation and avocation, he helped revolutionize the industry by melding traditional photography with photographic techniques. He has won top awards in international photography competitions for his portrait and landscape photography, and has served as an international instructor.

Learn about Marble Rock's history at a Cemetery Walk

The Marble Rock Historical Society will host a Cemetery Walk at Hillside Cemetery on Monday, May 29, following the American Legion Memorial Day Tribute.

At the cemetery's entrance, visitors will find a mailbox filled with booklets containing stories about Marble Rock citizens. Some stories are humorous, some poignant, but all are fascinating and feature historic, exquisite grave stones.

The booklets will also be available before Memorial Day for self-guided tours.

Learn about Grafton heritage

The Grafton Depot Heritage museum will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Memorial day, featuring train and local memorabilia. The Depot has been restored to its original appearance as a working depot.

Check out these book events

A reception for local author Wendy Johnson will be 1-2 p.m. Monday, May 29, at Carrie Lane Chapman Catt’s girlhood home, 2379 Timber Ave., in Charles City. The public is invited.

Johnson wrote " Preserving Carrie’s Legacy: The National 19th Amendment Society," which was commissioned by The National 19th Amendment Society, and captures the history of how a group of dedicated community members saved and preserved Catt's girlhood home.

The home and Interpretive Center opens for the summer May 29. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Visit www.catt.org or call 641-228-3033 for more information.

On Tuesday, May 30, Tommy Murray will be signing copies of his book, "Fathers, Sons, and the Holy Ghosts of Baseball" from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Book World in Southbridge Mall.

Murray, a retired teacher with the Minneapolis public schools, set his story in 1974, in a small fictional town in northwest Iowa, where the high school baseball team is desperately fighting to win its first Iowa State Summer Baseball Championship.

According to Murray, the Memorial Field in Bancroft was built on land donated by his grandfather, and dedicated to his father's brother, Tommy Murray, who lost his life in World War II.

Learn about Mason City artist Tonja Ihlenfeldt 

Local artist Tonja Ihlenfeldt will discuss her work during the next session of Lunch ‘n’ Learn Tuesday, May 30, at the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum.

Ihlenfeldt has been drawing, painting and pursuing bold expressionistic images for more than 30 years.

The program, open to the public, takes place from noon to 1 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month at the museum, 303 Second St. S.E. Participants are invited to bring their lunches. Docents are encouraged to attend to keep up-to-date on information and programming, and others interested in becoming docents may ask the instructor for more information.

More information about exhibits, programs, and events can be found at www.macniderart.org, at the museum's Facebook page, or by calling 641-421-3666.

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