DUBUQUEFEST/VERY SPECIAL ARTS
DUBUQUEFEST/VERY SPECIAL ARTS. An annual fall festival complete with ethnic foods, sidewalk shopping, arts and craft fair and music, the celebration's goal has been to make art more accessible to the public.
The first Dubuquefest was held on September 28-30, 1979. Featuring local artists, the event lasted three days, operated on a budget of $8,000, and drew approximately thirteen thousand visitors. Activities included a special Dubuquefest Farmer's Market and grand parade from JACKSON PARK to WASHINGTON PARK. A German biergarten was open on Saturday and Sunday from morning to night. Tours of Dubuque's historical and natural sights were scheduled along with performances by local musical groups. The final activity was an arts and crafts fair in Washington Park on Sunday. Organized as a tax-exempt, non-profit activity under the direction of the Dubuque Arts Society, Dubuquefest was supported by contributions from the Iowa Arts Council ($1,000), the Dubuque City Council ($4,000) and local businesses ($3,000).
By 1988 the festival's budget included forty thousand dollars in donations and featured national and international talent. Crowds estimated to reach sixty thousand were expected to attend the five-day event. The presence of DRAGON BOAT RACING created an international flavor for the event.
In 1988 Dubuquefest was joined with VERY SPECIAL ARTS FESTIVAL, an organization whose goal is to showcase the talents of the physically and mentally handicapped. Dubuque was selected that year as one of two model sites in the United States for integrated arts festivals.
Annually a royal couple is elected to preside over the festivities and be honored for their outstanding contributions to the arts in the Dubuque area.