The CRAM Files: What’s sizzling in Cedar Rapids

 Sirus Fountain paints at the 2013 NewBo Arts Fest. -- photo courtesy of Jim Jacobmeyer
Sirus Fountain paints at the 2013 NewBo Arts Fest. — photo courtesy of Jim Jacobmeyer

Now that August is here, summer feels like it’s slipping away. Make the most of these sunny days by attending a festival or taking an adventure to a quirky Cedar Rapids shop.

Craig Erickson and Planet Pluto at Jazz Under the Stars

Noelridge Park — Aug. 14, 7 p.m. (Free)

Jazz Under the Stars is a free concert series that happens every Thursday night in August at Noelridge Park. Shows start at 7 p.m. and while they have food trucks on site, I often take a little picnic basket with some snacks and lots of wine. If there is one performance not to miss in this series, it’s Cedar Rapids’ guitar hero Craig Erickson and Planet Pluto playing on Aug. 14.

Green Drinks CR Meetup

McGrath Amphitheater — Aug. 28, 5:30 p.m. (Location and times vary)

Did you know that Cedar Rapids has a Green Drinks, too? On Aug. 28, clean up your act at the Green Drinks CR meetup, an informal networking opportunity where environmentally conscious people can talk sustainability and innovation and share ideas with like-minded people.

Green Drinks happens on the fourth Thursday of every month, and each time there is a guest speaker to get the ball rolling. In June, the guest speaker was Steve Shriver of the Cedar Rapids-based lip balm company Eco Lips, and last month the city’s arborist Todd Fagan spoke. Check out the Green Drinks CR Facebook page to find out where the next one will be, as they change venues from month to month.

NewBo Arts Fest

New Bohemia — Aug. 31, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Free)

The hippest art festival of the summer is the NewBo Arts Fest on Aug. 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Now in its eighth year, the festival features an arts fair in NewBo park, music stages in seven nearby bars and restaurants, a half marathon, sculpture and ceramic shows in the Cherry Building and an emerging artists gallery in NewBo City Market.

The art at NewBo Arts Fest is the kind that you’ll want in your home, and it’s affordable. The artists are progressive, edgy and approachable. I would compare it to the caliber of creativity at What a Load of Craft but with less gifts. There’s also great food, street performers, kids activities and live music all day. Headlining the concerts is folk singer Jim Post of Friend and Lover who will play the Market Stage beginning at Noon. Afterwards, check out the introspective tunes of Bree Nettie and her new band Two Three Four, playing at 1 p.m. on the Market Stage.

Country Corner Western

4398 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids

Shopping in Cedar Rapids can be quite the adventure, especially if you’re looking for unique pieces for your wardrobe. At the Country Corner Western store on Mount Vernon Road you can find a new pair of boots or explore their legit cowboy gear. They have saddles, spurs, whips and chaps for riding or rodeo. You can also peruse their collection of Western wedding attire, from wedding, bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, to hats and men’s frock coats.

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