Iowa’s ‘first hip hop festival,’ Fresh Fest, kicks off this weekend in Des Moines

Fresh Fest

Des Moines Social Club — Friday and Saturday, Aug. 19 and 20

MarKaus Fresh Fest
Video still from “Subtracted Morals” by MarKaus. Marquas Ashworth’s Fresh Fest kicks off this weekend in Des Moines.

This weekend will kick off the inaugural Fresh Fest, claimed by its creators as Iowa’s first hip hop festival, taking place this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 19 and 20, at the Des Moines Social Club. The all-ages festival will celebrate multiple avenues of the culture including local and regional hip-hop acts, a freestyle competition and a fashion show.

The event’s founder, Marquas Ashworth, believes that the festival could ignite a “golden age” of hip-hop in Des Moines, referencing the era of late ’80s and early ’90s hip hop, where acts were judged by their artistry and not their business or branding prowess. “I feel like hip hop is going to be the dominant genre here soon,” the 25 year old said in an interview with the Des Moines Register, “even over rock, even over everything else because it’s something that everyone can connect to.” He continued to say that Iowa has some of the worst racial disparities in the nation, and that he believes his commitment to community building — with his music and putting on events like Fresh Fest — is where he is making the change he wants to see in Des Moines, our state and our nation.

The festival will include two stages with various featured acts from MarKaus w/ Negative Space, Ashworth’s own group, to headliner and Illinois native Tink. Tink’s internet clout is undeniable, with her singles “Million” and “Treat Me Like Somebody” reaching twelve and twenty million hits, respectively. In 2014, she signed to super-producer Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group, and her debut album Think Tink is set to be released this year under the Epic music label.

Fresh Fest will also include a Minnesota showcase, a Colorado showcase and a performance art showcase. The acts and events will begin Friday at 3 p.m. and continue until midnight, reconvening Saturday at 11 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. Saturday night. Tickets are $20 for a one-day pass and $25 for both days. VIP Rooftop Passes are also available, for $55. Those include access to all pre- and post-parties, swag bags and access to a private rooftop area.


  1. Cedar Rapids’ Super Fresh Culture Fest 1,2, & 3 were Iowa’s first hip hop festival. But this write-up is legit :) with the “claimed by its creator to be…”

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