CEDAR FALLS | For 10 years, Hearth Fest has brought people together for outdoor music, art and food for a good cause. The annual fundraiser returns on Sunday at Gateway Park features live music, entertainment, food and art to raise funds for the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

Festivities begin at 2 p.m. Performers donate their time and talents not only to help the food bank but also to make the event memorable.

"It's something to look forward to every year," said Karla Ruth, a singer and songwriter who regularly performs at Hearthfest. "There's such great camaraderie, it has the atmosphere of a family reunion."

Between the music, a children's poster contest, art auctions, haiku contest, plenty of artists and performers have a chance to showcase their talents for a cause.

"It's not just going to see someone else's show," said Kristie Swatosh, Hearth Fest volunteer and organizer. "It's a little bit of everybody's involvement."

Most of the musicians performing Sunday are affiliated with the Cedar Valley Acoustic Guitar Association.

"It's a great event for a worthy cause," said Rick Vanderwall, CVAGA member and co-founder. "We see ourselves as a civic organization."

The desire to help and the music is what draws people and performers to the event, he added.

"It's a great group of musicians willing to give back to their community."

Ruth agreed. "That's the thing about the musicians in this area — they love to help out."

Other local artists donate work and proceeds from sales to the cause. Attendees can pay what they choose for food at the Karma Café. The cafe, run by Stephanie Clohesy and Dawn Wilson, features donated pies, desserts and coffee. All proceeds go the NEIFB.

This year's event also features an arts and crafts sale and fine art silent auction. Prizes are available for an open haiku contest.

The event is for all ages with children’s activities throughout the day including a poster contest and an appearance by the Dean of Juggling. 

Over the nine years of the one-day event, people have donated a total of more than $21,000 to help the NEIFB provide more than 110,000 meals, Swatosh said. Last year’s event netted more than $4,200 for the food bank. The Northeast Iowa Food Bank serves 16 counties in Northeast Iowa.


General assignment reporter for the Courier

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