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Jason Isbell, Boz Scaggs and Arrested Development to headline Saturday in the Park

SIOUX CITY — Four-time Grammy-Award winners Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will co-headline the 2018 edition of Saturday in the Park, Sioux City’s free music festival scheduled for July 7.

Co-headlining the main stage at the Grandview bandshell will be Boz Scaggs, a prolific singer/guitarist whose career dates back to the 1960s when he was a member of the Steve Miller Band. Some of Scaggs' top Billboard solo hits include “Lowdown,” “Lido Shuffle” and “Look What You’ve Done to Me.”

Chris Phelps 

Boz Scaggs will be co-headlining the main stage at Saturday in the Park alongside Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

Headlining the second, or Abe Stage, will be Arrested Development, a conscious rap hip-hop group that won the Best New Artist Grammy in 1993 and was named band of the year by Rolling Stone Magazine the same year.

Isbell, who will close the July 7 festival at Grandview Park, is a former member of the Drive-by Truckers who has made music with the 400 Unit since 2009. The group’s latest album, “Nashville Sounds,” earned them Grammys for Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Song in 2017.

Atlanta-based hip-hop group Arrested Development will headline the Abe Stage at Saturday in the Park.

Scaggs, 73, a guitarist and occasional lead singer for the Steve Miller Band in 1968, gained fame again in the 1970s with a string of top 20 solo hits in the 1970s. More recently, his 2015 album, “A Fool to Care,” rose to Number One on the Billboard Blues Album chart.

Arrested Development is best known for the smash single, “Tennessee,” which also won a Grammy and was on the group’s four times platinum debut album, “3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of…”

Held the the first Saturday in July, SITP has been a Sioux City mainstay in Grandview Park since 1991. Friends Dave Bernstein, Adam Feiges, Tom Grueskin and others got together to sketch out plans for a free outdoor concert in Sioux City. At first, they were thinking of a single festival. But the momentum was unstoppable, and what became known as Saturday in the Park has grown into an annual tradition, drawing upwards of 30,000 people each year and rivaling music festivals in larger cities.

The acts that have played SITP reads like a "Who's Who" in the world of music. Everyone from B.B. King to Carlos Santana to Aretha Franklin has graced the Grandview Park Bandshell stage over the years.

In 2017, the festival played host to headliners that included Joss Stone, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and the Revivalists. Formerly known as the Second Stage, in recent years, the Abe Stage has attracted national hip-hop acts such as Sir-Mix-a-Lot, Prof and Brother Ali.

Additional acts will be announced Wednesday during a news conference featuring SITP organizers at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino-Sioux City, the title sponsor for the festival.

Circus returns to Sioux City with elephants, daredevils and more

SIOUX CITY -- Agile aerialists, crazy clowns and three rings of wire walkers will be dazzling the young at heart when Carden International Circus presents the 68th annual Abu Bekr Shrine Circus this week.

The circus returns for a five-day run, starting Wednesday night, at the Tyson Events Center. 

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

From left, Sebastian Alvarado, 16, and Gerard Said set up equipment at the Tyson Events Center for the Abu Bekr Shrine Circus, which starts a five-day run Wednesday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City.

The most explosive entertainer will no doubt be Chachi "The Rocketman" Valencia, who will be shot out a cannon during each of the 10 shows.

"My speed out of the cannon will be about 55 mph," the 48-year-old native of Chile, explained, "Then, I'll be shot into a net that's 55 feet off of the ground." 

If Valencia sounds likes a daredevil, you have to remember that it must run in his genes.

"I come from a family that has six generations of circus performers," he said, while setting up his cannon at the Tyson Events Center, Tuesday afternoon. "Only once did I have a typical 9-to-5 job. I couldn't wait to join the circus again."

Indeed, Valencia's background is very similar to the 81 other performers involved with the Willard, Mo.-based Carden International Circus. 

There have been eight generations of Bardo Garcia's family involved with the circus.

"That's eight generations on mom's side of the family," he said. "My dad came from a carnival family until he literally ran away from home to join the circus. Dad fell in love with my mom, who was a circus trapeze artist."

Even though he's been blown out of a cannon and has been an extreme cage motorcycle rider in the past, Garcia, 44, will part of the Wheel of Destiny during the Sioux City shows.

According to Garcia, the Wheel of Destiny is pretty much what you think it will be. He walk inside and on top of the rotating wheel that proceeds to go higher and faster.

Does he ever get dizzy?

"Sometimes," Garcia said. "The lights will play tricks with you, too." 

Garcia and Valencia have played the Tyson Events Center a few times in the past. The Royal Bengal Tigers and the Carden Majestic Performing Elephants have been mainstays of the circus even longer.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Three performances of the Abu Bekr Shrine Circus are set at the Tyson Events Center Saturday. 

A growing number of U.S. cities have restricted or banned the use of exotic animals like circus acts. In 2017, the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus ended 146 years of entertaining audiences, citing declining attendance as well as protracted battles with animal rights activists.

In February, Carden International Circus founder and producer George Carden told a Springfield, Mo. newspaper that the circus will not be replacing any elephant once they die or retire.

He predicted that future circuses someday will have mechanized, life-like animals in place of real ones.

This is fine by Larry Janssen, potentate of the Abu Bekr Shriners, who insists it is the two-legged performers who continue to garner the most interest. 

"I think the girls like the acrobats the best while the boys continue to like the daredevils," he said.

Todd Saunders, Abu Bekr Shriners chief rabban, nodded his head in agreement.

"Even though there's so much entertainment out there, the circus continues to be a big draw for us," Saunders said. 

Still, he said there are some unscrupulous people out there, taking advantage of potential circus attendees with bogus tickets.

Tickets costing $12, $15 and $18, can be purchased at the Tyson Events Center box office, by calling 800-614-ETIX (3849) or at

Despite that, Saunders said people continue to think of the Shrine Circus as fun, affordable family entertainment.

"It reminds everyone of their childhood," he said.

Wheel of Destiny daredevil Bardo Garcia actually spent his childhood inside the three rings of a circus. Today, he's proud that his 10-year-old daughter, 14-year-old son and 18-year-old son are following in his footsteps.

"When I was growing, I was home-schooled and took correspondent classes," he said. "My kids had it easier since much of their schooling was done online."

Years ago, Garcia's parents gave him the choice of continuing the circus lifestyle or going to college. He decided to do both at the same time.

"I earned my bachelor's degree in psychology when I turned 20," he said. 

Wait, a guy who makes his living doing stunts in a rotating wheel has a degree in psychology?

"So does my oldest son Alejandro," Garcia said. "He earned his degree in psychology at age 18."

South Sioux City, Winnebago, Yankton, Vermillion areas named 'Opportunity Zones'

SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- State officials in Nebraska and South Dakota have nominated five Siouxland census tracts to be designated as "Opportunity Zones," meaning they could receive future investments through a new federal program meant to spur development. 

In Nebraska, the nominated tracts include the northern portion of South Sioux City and the northern portion of Thurston County that includes the Winnebago reservation. In South Dakota, the zones include the outer areas of Vermillion, a portion of western Yankton and another area west of Yankton. 

The state of Iowa has not yet announced its nominations. 

The designated tracts' nomination as Opportunity Zones mean that businesses and property within those areas will be eligible to receive future investments from "Opportunity Funds" being set up by the federal government.

Under the program, private investors will receive tax incentives to reinvest their unrealized capital gains into the Opportunity Funds. Those funds will then invest 90 percent of those dollars into the qualifying low-income census tracts. 

The program is part of the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which President Trump signed into law late last year. The Opportunity Zones are intended to draw from the billions of dollars of capital gains in the U.S. as a result of the robust stock market.

To qualify, the census tracts must have a poverty rate of 20 percent or greater or family income at less than 80 percent of the area's median income. States can nominate up to one-fourth of the qualifying census tracts to the federal government, meaning the city must go through a competitive application process to receive the designation.

South Sioux City's designated census tract sits north of 29th Street and includes approximately 6,500 residents, or about half of the city's population of 13,120. The area had a poverty rate of 28 percent and an unemployment rate of 13.4 percent, according to statistics cited by the U.S. Department of the Treasury

"We are pleased our application was selected," South Sioux City grant coordinator Kaylee Langseth said in a news release. "It is now up to us to attract quality industrial companies to our area that will be vital for the state of Nebraska, the City of South Sioux City and Siouxland."

Nate Welch, executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company, said the Vermillion census tract receiving the nomination includes the city's three industrial parks, as well as space for future housing projects.


"The area that's selected is really the prime area where most of those projects will go," he said. "This Opportunity Fund designation is really just going to increase the tools that we have in the bag to encourage the businesses to expand or grow here." 

The Thurston County tract, which includes all of the Winnebago Tribe's reservation in northeast Nebraska, had a poverty rate of 26 percent and an unemployment rate of 15 percent, according to the Department of the Treasury.

Lucas LaRose, corporate counsel for Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe, said he believes the incentives will help fund a pipeline of future development projects on the reservation. 

"We were very excited," LaRose said of Ho-Chunk's response to the news. "This is something that we are very good in doing -- taking these incentives to help develop economic deserts."


Sioux City Younkers store at risk of closing; investment group makes bid for brand's parent company

SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Younkers has joined the list of stores in danger of closing if the chain's parent company fails to resolve its financial problems.

Bon-Ton Inc., which owns Younkers and some other department store brands, has told the city of Sioux City the store at Southern Hills Mall could close by June 5 if Bon-Ton is forced to liquidate its holdings as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. City officials confirmed they received a notification letter from the company on Tuesday.

To comply with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act, Bon-Ton has announced plans to shutter stores across the country. The WARN act requires large employers to notify states, employees and local communities at least 60 days before any potential closings.

On Friday, Bon-Ton sent letters to state labor departments across the country. The potential closings previously reported include stores at the Oakview and Westroads malls in Omaha and the store at the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls.

The company reportedly sent a letter to the Iowa Workforce Development, but the state agency has not yet updated its online WARN listing. A spokesperson for Iowa Workforce Development couldn't confirm Tuesday if Iowa had been the recipient of one of Bon-Ton's most recent letters.

Bon-Ton, which also owns the Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson's, Elder-Beerman and Herberger's department stores, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Feb. 4 in Delaware. A statement from Bon-Ton said the company is in "active discussion" with an investor group to acquire the company.

The owners of Southern Hills Mall are part of an investment group looking to purchase Bon-Ton. Columbus, Ohio-based Washington Prime intends to partner with DW Partners and Namdar Realty Group, including its partner Mason Asset Management, to acquire Bon-Ton and its assets before the company places itself on the auction block on April 16, according to a news release.

The group would purchase Bon-Ton’s assets for a baseline bid of no less than $128 million, according to documents filed by the investors in bankruptcy court. The investors say the action would save more than 20,000 jobs nationwide and preserve "a 120-year-old business that is a significant customer for its vendors, an anchor tenant for many of its landlords, and the leading hometown department store for millions of consumers in local communities throughout 23 states.”

Washington Prime Group, a real estate firm that specializes in retail properties, spent $55 million in November to retain its ownership of Southern Hills, the region’s largest indoor shopping center. 

Younkers, an anchor at Southern Hills Mall since it opened in the early 1980s, has had a presence in the Sioux City market since 1947, when it acquired Davidson Brothers Co., a regional department store chain.