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14th annual Ralston Creek Fair set for Labor Day weekend


Uptown Bill's
Uptown Bill’s to its new Dubuque St. location in 2010. — photo courtesy of Tom Gilsenan

Iowa City’s 14th annual Ralston Creek Fair kicks off this Labor Day weekend, August 30-31, in the area outside Uptown Bill’s Coffee House (730 S Dubuque St.). The event, hosted by Uptown Bill’s, will benefit its Extend the Dream Foundation, a non-profit charity that empowers individuals of all abilities.

The fair will feature a flea market with vendors affiliated with Uptown Bill’s, including the Bookmart and Vintage Shoppe, as well as booths for local artists and craftspeople. As with previous years, organizers have invited local musicians to play throughout the festival, with a different artist performing each hour. According to Uptown Bill’s Director Tom Gilsenan, the event is also a celebration of Uptown Bill’s Coffee House’s 13th birthday, so attendees are encouraged to bring cake or cupcakes.

“We set out a big table with a tablecloth,” Gilsenan said, laughing. “It’s always great fun because there will be a variety of cakes, and we just hope it lasts until the end. So far it has!”

This will be the first year the Ralston Creek Fair has taken place over two days instead of just one. Gilsenan says the decision to expand the fair came as a result of increased public support and attendance in recent years coupled with the fact that specialized forms of public transportation don’t run on Labor Day — a federal holiday.

“By moving it to Saturday and Sunday,” Gilsenan said, “at least on Saturday people who use Bionic [Bus] or SEATS can come.”

On Saturday, nearby PATV Iowa City will take part in the festivities with an open house from 12-3 p.m., followed by a screening of Moon Zero Three: Episode Three in the PATV studio beginning at 4 p.m. The sci-fi film, which features former 1992 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Acie Earl, was produced and shot right here in Iowa City. PATV Outreach Coordinator James Mims says this will be a great opportunity for the public to see some of the recent changes made to the PATV building.

“We’ve done some renovations to our building,” Mims said. “We’ve got it repainted, we’ve got some new equipment and some new staff after a bunch of turnover just this year.”

There are still slots available for vendors and musicians. Anyone interested in participating in the fair is encouraged to call Uptown Bill’s at (319) 339-0804 for more information.


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