Already claiming ‘goat’ status, the new Greenbelt Music Festival wants to kick off the outdoor fest season for years to come

Greenbelt Music Festival

Horizon Events Center, Clive, May 19-20, $35-139

Here Come the Mummies, an inaugural Greenbelt Music Festival headliner. — courtesy of Horizon Events Center

One detail that’s still being confirmed is whether or not the goats will be in attendance at the new music festival.

“A lot of people don’t know there’s a large number of goats at Clive City Hall that take care of the Greenbelt Trail and we’ll hopefully have them here as well,” said Tariq Lundy, referring to the roughly 15 goats the city hall houses to keep invasive species out of the Greenbelt. “If you look over our branding, you’ll see little goats on some of the festival posters and our website as well.”

The Greenbelt Trail is a paved surface that runs 11.3 miles long, and is sometimes referred to as “main street” but formally known as The Clive Greenbelt.

The herd at work on Greenbelt Trail — City of Clive photo

Clive has a population of about 19,000, but an estimated 75,000 people use the Greenbelt annually for running, cycling, rollerblading, walking or merely enjoying nature. However, this year, organizers at Horizon Events Center (2100 NW 100th St) hope people also use the trail to arrive at the new Greenbelt Music Festival.

“We have bluegrass, jam-grass, country, red-dirt, Here Come The Mummies and so much more,” said Lundy, Horizon’s booking and operations manager. “We don’t get a lot of national bluegrass bands touring this market often, so we’re excited to bring that to Clive. We really wanted to push that family friendly event side for the community, and we want to be one of the first festivals of the year, which is why we’re doing it in May.”

The Horizon Events Center building stands adjacent to the Greenbelt Trail and will host the upcoming music festival on roughly four acres of grass field. There, festival-goers will witness what Lundy and other organizers hope will grow into a new community tradition.

The Greenbelt Music Festival is a two-day, outdoor festival set to kick off on May 19.

The event was conceived last year by Kyle Galloway, chief financial officer for Horizon Events Center. The festival will be centered around bluegrass music, nature and community — as such, $5 of each ticket will be donated to the Clive Community Foundation for the purposes of revitalizing the Clive Greenbelt Trail.

Lundy and Horizon’s general manager, Gary DeWaard, were tasked with setting up this brand new festival. They researched other festivals and traveled to Kansas City to check out the Bluegrass in the Bottoms Festival to “learn more about bluegrass,” as Lundy told Little Village.

The fruits of their studies now appear in the roster of national, regional and local acts boasted by the new festival.

Headlining the event is The Infamous Stringdusters, a band that won Best Bluegrass Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards for Laws of Gravity. The band received another nomination in the same category for their latest effort Toward the Fray, released earlier this year.

“I think a lot of people are going to come to the festival for the festival atmosphere, to get out of the house, and enjoy May, the bike trail and summertime,” Lundy said.

Longtime central Iowa residents will likely know that Horizon Events Center is in the location of the now-defunct Seven Flags Event Center, which ceased operations during the pandemic. Grievances toward the previous owners involved noise complaints, security problems for the neighbors and parking issues.
According to Lundy, those issues were all considered while organizing the Greenbelt Music Festival.

“We invited the neighbors back [to the facility] in September for Meet the Neighbors Night,” he said. “We listened to their concerns and qualms and took those into consideration when we started building the operations board and the site plan. We took that to the city council and got a unanimous vote to have the event.

“I think the biggest challenge was convincing the neighbors and the city that we’re going to be respectful about sound and time, and just getting the word out to the community that bluegrass creates a fun atmosphere.”

Another key part of organizing the festival was reaching out to the Clive Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded in 2013 that raises money through donations to improve the community.

The Foundation has partnered with the City of Clive on the Greenbelt Landing Project, a multi-faceted plan to renovate the area over the next few years. There will be improvements in the area near the Aquatic Center and along the trail itself. A new festival stage is planned as well as a new community center, a kid’s playground and a nature and wetlands walk.

“Other projects include a couple of improved recreation areas along the trail, and a lot of improvements to erosion and flood control,” said Bob Forte, a member of the Clive Community Foundation Board.

Forte has served on the Foundation’s advisory board for five years now. As a member of the marketing committee, he is involved with partnerships between different agencies and organizations.

The team at Horizon first reached out to the Foundation last November. Preliminary conversations were about the festival concept, but things really started coming together as 2023 began and Horizon received city council approval.

Geese on patrol and not taking your shit on the bike trail at Clive Aquatic Center. — Lily DeTaeye/Little Village

General admission passes are available for one day or both days, as well as a VIP “G.O.A.T. pass.”

Lundy and Forte hope festival-goers take advantage of the trail, where a bike valet will be provided, to get to the festival.

“We’re really excited to highlight the City of Clive and this area because we think it’s beautiful,” Lundy said. “As long as we have a safe, family friendly event, we’re planning on having it regardless. We’re having this inaugural event with plans to have it around for a long time. Our plan is we’re not done yet, we’re just getting started.”

Mike Kuhlenbeck is a freelance journalist and National Writers Union member based in Des Moines, Iowa. This article was originally published in Little Village Central Iowa issue 014.