Now that Saturday in the Park is 27 years old, is it safe to say the festival has found its identity?
That's a tough call to make. Inherently, Saturday in the Park is Sioux City's annual outdoor music event. But it's more than that. Anyone who has been there knows this.
Masses of food vendors line the outter rim of the Bandsheel knoll and fill Grandview Park with a mouthwatering aroma of fair food. Attendees walk around the space wearing their summer garb with a drink in one hand and a turkey leg or gyro in the other.
Arts Alley becomes its own entity during the outdoor festival. It's a temporary commune full of positive vibrations, tie die shirts and colorful oddities. Meanwhile the Kids Zone is busy with petting zoo animals, inflatables and other festival-worthy distractions for the youngsters.
What's important to note is that this all came to be over time. Saturday in the Park co-founder Dave Bernstein said he and the festival's organizers have tried to add various activities throughout its 27 years.
"It's kind of the normal process," said Bernstein. "How do you build something? You try things and keep the things that work. It's almost like when people put specials on a menu. Some of the stuff on the menu works, some doesn't. The stuff that works, you keep on the menu."
Here's a look at what attractions and activities have come and gone or evolved throughout Saturday in the Park's lifespan:
THE ABE STAGE
The outdoor music festival's most recent change was an overhaul to the Second Stage in 2016. Organizers of Saturday in the Park's alternative stage wanted something new, something different. They renamed it The Abe Stage (a nod to the Abraham Lincoln statue located near the venue space) and gave it an enclosed tent.
SECOND STAGE LOCATIONS
According to Bernstein, the Second Stage was moved to multiple locations throughout its lifetime at Saturday in the Park. Its current location near 24th Street and the festival's shuttle bus drop-off was where it was held originally. On one occasion it was a split stage with the Kids Zone stage, and another year it was moved to the lower parking lot near the St. Lukes side of Grandview Park.
The Ferris wheel is scheduled to make its return this year. But Bernstein said the ride has been unavailable at times due to booking complications -- made even more difficult when planning its stay on Fourth of July weekends. "We've had the Ferris wheel on and off throughout the years," said Bernstein. "It was here last year. We're anticipating that it will be back again this year."
Whoever said astronauts needed to stay in space? Saturday in the Park organizers got their hands on a spaceman. Not just any spaceman -- a giant spaceman. Bernstein put it bluntly, "We tried to put a giant astronaut on the water tower one year." Unfortunately, no astronauts will be making a grand entrance into the festival this year. But that won't stop us from moonwalking around the park.
Not to be confused with the inflatable jump houses at the Kids Zone. In the early years, Saturday in the Park officials looked for ways to get peoples attention and spread the word about the event. A big inflatable gorilla was used to do just that during the first year. The second year it was a bunny.
As if the festival didn't have enough music, the organizers went ahead and added marching bands a few times. It involved members of the community and gave the festival another fun flair. Plus, it's more music to enjoy. And there's nothing wrong with that.