Joe Denim and friends chose Forest City’s DenimFest over Los Angeles this Memorial Day weekend.
The “I Love The 90’s” tour featuring Denim, Vanilla Ice, Tone Loc, All 4 One, Color Me Badd, Rob Base, C&C Music Factory, Young MC, and more will continue touring almost non-stop across the country. However, all focus will be on DenimFest at Heritage Park of North Iowa throughout Memorial Day weekend including Saturday, May 27, which could have been an LA tour date.
“I’m going to be here instead of LA,” Denim declared. “We’ll go back and get LA later on tour. We chose corn.”
On site at the Forest City venue during the raising of a large stage that has featured some of the most famous rock bands in the world, including Aerosmith and Kiss, Denim announced his hopes for even bigger plans in Forest City for 2024 and beyond.
People are also reading…
“Hopefully, this stage will be here for the next five years,” Denim said. “There could be two festivals a year starting in 2024, on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.”
DenimFest Communications Specialist Amanda Hale noted that contracts for future-year festivals in Forest City were not finalized. Proposed future Labor Day weekend shows could feature famous rock and roll artists while Memorial Day weekend festivals would maintain country musicians. Denim said there are no plans to depart from three-day holiday weekend schedules in the future.
“We have three days to party and a day to recover,” said Denim, noting that plans for additional DenimFests are also in the works. “We will do other shows and want to come back to Forest City twice a year.”
The purchase of that famous, larger-than-average stage was finalized in Montreal, Canada, and the lead rigger for country superstar Chris Stapleton was on site at Heritage Park for its setup. As the roof was being hoisted on May 16, DenimFest partner Steve Kovach said it was going 50 feet high.
“It’s the biggest stage in America and the strongest stage,” Denim said. “It’s the biggest rock and roll stage out there.”
Building the stage was enough of a process that it was done in stages after partners and workers arrived on the grounds in early May. Starting Friday, May 26, top country artists will be belting out their hit songs from it. Those musicians will include Big & Rich, Smash Mouth, Dierks Bentley, Joe Denim featuring Hillbilly Soap Opera, and Jelly Roll as headliners. There will also be performances by Leah Turner, Dillon Carmichael, Drake White, Military, Hillbilly Joel, Austin Snell, McBride & The Ride, Hannah Dasher, Love and Theft, and more.
“These artists that will be performing are all my personal friends,” Denim said. “I asked all of them to come here and they all said 'yes.'”
He noted that fans attending the performances in Forest City will be catching each of the acts first before they begin touring the rest of the country and beyond in June.
“It will be the first chance to see the new Dierks Bentley show and the first time to see Jelly Roll,” Denim said. “They’ll head out on tour afterward. We love Forest City and we love the people here. It’s a great place for the kickoff for touring season, I told Dierks, Jelly, and Big & Rich. Two of them know because they’ve played here before (Dierks Bentley, Big & Rich). They’re excited, I’m excited. We want everyone to come out and invite their friends!”
Denim said he and the other four DenimFest partners placed heavy emphasis on keeping everything as inexpensive as possible during an era of inflation. Denim noted there will be no ticketing fees from the likes of Ticket Master. There will also be $6 beers and canned cocktails.
“We want everyone to have a good time at an affordable price,” Denim said. “So, buy a ticket, bring your friends, and enjoy the shows. We’re expecting a great crowd.”
Tickets are available for 24/7 purchase online at www.denimfest.com (through E-Ticks) and will also be available at the gate.
Hale cited a long list of fun extras being planned throughout the weekend. Among them will be a mullet competition of the USA Mullet Championship Series on Sunday. Contestants in the retro event will compete for a cash prize. Also at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Hippie The Rodeo Clown will lead a cowboy church service and play inspirational music.
Hale said the weekend will be a Jimmy Buffett model of providing people an escape from whatever else is happening in their lives. She noted the VIP area that was being prepped should make people will feel like they are in Key West because of the tropical décor and live palm leaves. The VIP area and artist tent will have back-to-back bars where fans may be able to catch a glimpse of their favorite performers, according to Hale.
The palm leaves for the VIP area were recently trimmed and shipped to Forest City from Arizona where DenimFest partner Steve Kovach’s The Stillery restaurant chain, regularly featuring musical performers, is based. In fact, a campground stage that will be known as the The Stillery stage will feature additional entertainment each day from noon to 4 p.m. On Saturday, KIOW Radio FM-107.3 (Mark Skaar) will oversee the programming for the campground stage with a group of select local performers. There will also be a deejay from midnight to 2 a.m. in the campground following each day’s shows.
“Mark Skaar is the reason we’re here,” said Denim of behind-the-scenes talks over the winter. “He connected me with Mayor Ron Holland and we started negotiations.”
Guests will also be able to stroll among vendor sites sharing adjacent spaces in long tents. If anyone gets too hot in the early summer sun, shade tents will also be available.
“We want it to be a true vacation for the weekend,” Hale said. “The support from the local businesses has been amazing. We appreciate the support from businesses, the community, and the mayor.”
Each day will be patriotic as well. DenimFest is working closely with Winnebago County Historian Riley Lewis and Todd Nichols of Next Response Foundation, which is one of its chosen charities. Hale said the national anthem will be played every night. There will also be helicopters, flyovers, 18-wheel trucks, and American Legion representation to help salute military veterans.
An added feature at DenimFest will be Joe Denim’s adapted “Freaky Tiki” pontoon boat. Bolted onto a trailer, it formerly towed tourists and bachelorettes around Nashville to party. Now, it will tow DenimFest guests around the Winnebago Industries campgrounds free-of-charge.
Concert goers may bring their own lawn chairs, one sealed bottled water (there will be hydration stations for refills or beverages available for purchase), and small empty soft coolers. Full details are available at www.denimfest.com.
Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at email@example.com.