Fantastic Fun with Lincoln’s Festivals

by Donna Joy Brakenhoff

If you are looking for a music festival, Lincoln has many throughout the year including any type of music, from soul, to funk, from country to rock and roll. Food? Yes, we have that covered for you. Art…Oh yes, we have the best arts festival in Nebraska! 

Zoofest, held at Lincoln’s legendary Zoo Bar, is the place to be in July. Billed as the Premier Music Festival, it offers something for everyone’s tastes. Blues is the Zoo Bar’s specialty, however the weekend of July 6th and 7th, you hear all types of jazz and blues, some soul, a little bit of country, and everything in between. Los Lobos, originating in East Los Angeles, kicks off the festival at 9 pm on Friday. At 11 PM, join Lincoln’s own Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal for a magical combination of James Brown and Otis Redding music stylings. 

On Saturday, begin your day with some of the newest up and coming blues performers. BluesEd is a non-profit artist development program and these young students get a chance to perform in a band in a true music festival. Other performers on Saturday include Hector Anchondo, singing the blues. Igor and Red Elvises, billed as an out of control fun band. Dale Watson and His Lonestars play classic honky-tonk for the crowds’ enjoyment. Tommy Castro and the Painkillers is not only an interesting name, but gives us a fantastic array of music. Funky southern soul, big city blues, and classic rock, all rolled into one band. It is truly an experience. Round out the evening with Nikki Hill. She has been to Lincoln before and can always be counted on to wow us.

Each Tuesday in June, Jazz in Junegives Lincolnites an opportunity to hear beautiful music, and enjoy the grounds around the Sheldon Art Museum on the University of Lincoln Campus. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets. Bring the whole family and your friends. Music begins at 7 PM, but come early and enjoy a picnic, walk through the art museum, and watch the performers that ‘warm up’ the crowd with juggling or various other forms of fun. The concerts are free, but a free-will donation is appreciated to keep this long running Lincoln tradition continuing for many years to come. 

Artists for 2018 included Jamison Ross, a gift composer and jazz singer; Jazzmeia Horn, a rising star in jazz; Mwenso & the Shakes, a unique group of global artists and the Huntertones, fun and imaginative music. Jazz in June is an event I never miss! It always enchants me.  

On a weekend in late September, SouthPointe Pavilions hosts the Lincoln Arts Festival. This is the place to see the creations of local and global artists. You may also share some of your own creativity at the Creative Zone. 

There is live entertainment, a variety of foods to choose from, and you may purchase a treasure for yourself or as a gift. This author loves this festival. It incorporates every sense. Taste, sight, sound and touch. 

Artist wares include clay, glass, metal, paintings, photography, sculpture and wood. There are also many mixed media artists. Nearly a hundred artists are represented and they love to share their work with you. You can find jewelry in glass, metal, wood, even clay. Painting includes painted clay, jewelry, fiber and wood as well as canvas. There is truly something for every wish and desire and I guarantee you will come home very happy with your visit to this arts festival. 

Ribfest: the name says it all. Ribs in a festival of flavors, all coming together for Lincoln’s enjoyment. And not just ribs, but pork roast, homemade cornbread, roasted corn on the cob, cole slaw with a bit of a tang to offset the sweet heat of the barbecue sauce. Am I making you hungry? You will find all this and more at Capital City Ribfest and leave with a greater understanding of what true barbecue is all about. 

Happening in mid-August, Ribfest. Located at the Pinnacle Bank Arena, if you bring a can of food on Thursday and Friday afternoon, admission is free. All other times there is a five dollar admission fee. For this, you will have the chance to sample foods from all over the country, and Australia, but you will also hear live music. Bands from across the state, and across the country will serenade you through you dining experience. I have my favorite vendors at this festival, and go back to each year after year. I also try one, or two new vendors each year. What will your favorite be this year? 

Lincoln’s Meadowlark Music Festival brings heavenly chamber music to our city. The venue is different for each concert, yet you will always find great music and friendly folks to make your visit memorable. 

This years’ performers included Frank Proto & Time Berens at the Grand Manse. Playing guitar and acoustic bass, we heard classical music with a jazz crossover. At Saint Paul United Methodist Church, we heard the French pianist Marina Pacowski perform for us, and the String Quintet of Sybarites performing at the Grand Manse. This is a young, highly energetic group that has a wide range from Armenian Folk Songs to Radiohead. The grand finale is back at Saint Paul United Methodist Church with all of the seasons’ artist collaborating in new combinations. This is a favorite night for most festival goers as the combinations are astounding and beautiful.  

The 50th annual Czech Festivalwas held in May at the Pla Mor Ballroom at 6600 West O Street. For authentic Czech food, music, dancing and all things Czech, this is great event to plan to attend. Do you like accordions? They have an accordion jam session. Vendors show various Czech wares, including quilts and baked goods. 

For fun, unique, annual, or different every year festivals, Lincoln has you covered.  

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