MASON CITY — The 79th North Iowa Band Festival is staying downtown for the third year with a variety of entertainment.

The festival previously had been held in East Park since 1992. Originally, it was held in Roosevelt Stadium and was moved downtown in 1982 after the stadium was torn down. The festival returned downtown in 2015.

The 79th annual Band Festival will be held May 25-29.

The event is the largest free marching band competition in the Midwest. The festival brings in thousands of tourists.

Last year, tourism brought in an estimated $78.6 million into Mason City’s economy. In Cerro Gordo County, tourism generated an estimated $191.37 million in visitor spending which is the 11th highest county level in the Iowa.

Entertainment for the band festival will include a variety of musical genres.

The country music band Thrillbillies will open Friday night followed by headliner Chris Hawkey. Hawkey is known for his country hit singles "My Kind of Crazy" and "Good Liar."

Betty and the Gents will entertain those of all ages with a mix of classic and modern hits Saturday evening. The Pork Tornadoes of Cedar Rapids will take the stage Saturday as well. They are one of the most sought-after party bands in the Midwest, Band Festival officials said. 

Musicians from the Mason City Municipal Band and students from the Mason City Middle School Band, high school jazz band and high school orchestra will play on the plaza throughout the weekend. The Mohawk Danzers and Newman High School Dance Team will perform as well.

Festival activities, which also include the carnival and marketplace.

Thursday, May 25

6 p.m. -- Middle school night, plaza

6:45 p.m. -- Mason City Municipal Band, plaza

7:30 p.m. -- Orquesta Alto Maiz (The Salsa Band), First Congregational United Church of Christ

6-8 p.m. -- Carnival open downtown

Friday, May 26

5 p.m. -- Carnival, marketplace, concessions open downtown

5 p.m. -- Mohawk Danzers, main stage

5:15 p.m. -- Mason City High School orchestra, main stage

6 p.m. -- Thrillbillies, main stage

8 p.m. -- Chris Hawkey, main stage

Saturday, May 27

8 a.m. -- 28th annual Stu Nevermann Memorial Run, Aquatic Center

10 a.m. -- Parade

Noon -- Carnival, marketplace, concessions open downtown

1 p.m. -- Newman High School dance team, main stage

1:15 p.m. -- Mason City High School Jazz Band, plaza

2 p.m. -- Awards ceremony and Extreme Makeover announcement, main stage

5 p.m. -- Betty and the Gents

7 p.m. -- The Pork Tornadoes, main stage

Sunday, May 28

9 a.m. -- Outdoor worship service, Trinity Lutheran Church

Noon -- Carnival, marketplace open downtown

Monday, May 29

Noon -- Carnival open