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Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association

Jenna Hardy Pedersen, director of the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association, is shown with a rendering of the group's proposed museum in West Okoboji on Oct. 22, 2013.

WEST OKOBOJI, Iowa | Growing up in Sioux Falls in the 1990s, Jenna Hardy Pedersen knew her tastes in music were different from those of many of her contemporaries.

"My dad turned me on to the Beatles when I was 10 years old," the now 29-year-old remembered. "After one listen to 'Strawberry Fields Forever,' I knew I was hooked on the classic."

Which is a good thing for Hardy Pedersen, the director of the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association since September 2013. Her new job is to recognize the role legendary Iowa bands have had on the history of rock and roll.

This is why she's spearheading an effort to secure funding for a new Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association in the Iowa Great Lakes.

Plans call for a 12,000-square-foot center with exhibit space, office area, outdoor Hall of Fame and guitar-shaped amphitheater with roof seating on Iowa Highway 86 in West Okoboji.

FEH Associates, of Sioux City, is designing the project, and the groundbreaking is slated for 2015. Construction is expected to take about two years on land that was donated by Toby and Sylvia Shine, owners of the adjacent Okoboji Classic Cars Museum.

Still, Hardy Pedersen said they will be retaining their current location -- an 800-foot space at Arnolds Park amusement park -- as a satellite location.

Also, the summertime Thursday "Rock the Roof" concerts will continue at Arnolds Park.

"We have a terrific relationship with Arnolds Park and want that to continue," she said. "One of the reasons we're building a new museum is simply, we've run out of space."

Hardy Pedersen said only one-third of the association's memorabilia can fit in the Arnolds Park location. The rest remains in storage.

"We have so much cool stuff, we want to show everything off," she said. "We can't do that at our current museum."

Other innovations Hardy Pedersen hopes to bring to the new museum will include new multimedia, interactive exhibits as well as traveling exhibits from such places as Cleveland's National Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Las Vegas' Hard Rock Casino, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock, Texas.

"There are plenty of requirements needed to host such large-scale exhibits," she said, "such as a building with two levels, ample storage and other consideration."

Hardy Pedersen said the new museum will be designed to take advantage of those requirements.

Yet she remains cognizant of the fact that the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association must primarily be a place where Iowa bands and musicians should be honored.

"Iowa has had so many great musicians," Hardy Pedersen allowed. "They may not have become stars but they made it big in their respective communities."

Hardy Pedersen said she knows the life of a musician, first hand.

"My dad is a rock and roll musician," she said. "Every weekend, he and his band would travel to a different town to play."

As it turns out, Hardy Pedersen is also musically gifted. The Sioux Falls native graduated from Boston's Berklee College of Music and studied jazz at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

Still, she wants the association to evolve with the times.

While most of the association's past Hall of Fame honorees have been from the 1950s and 1960s, she said the music is constantly changing and expects their focus will progress as well.

"The '50s and '60s is not the actual focus of our mission," Hardy Pedersen explained. "It has just turned out that way because rock and roll started in the '50s, birthed out of jazz and blues."

"Our mission," she reiterated, "is to preserve the history of rock and roll and all music within the state of Iowa."

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