Jerry Hotz’s 8-acre farm near Lone Tree is far from the hustle and bustle of Iowa City.
Every July for one weekend, though, this land of corn and bean fields punctuated by patches of flowers and vegetables transforms into a city unto itself. For two days, Camp Euforia brings music lovers from across the country together to this small farm.
Equal parts hip and hippie, Camp Euforia was started in 2004 by the then Iowa City-based band, Euforquestra band to showcase Iowa’s musicians.
The first year featured five local bands for a one-day free show. Since then, it has evolved into Iowa’s premier independent music festival — a two-day event with camping, vendors and more than 20 bands scheduled to perform on three stages. On Saturday, there will be a yoga class, coffee with the Grossos band, bloody marys with Maximilian Eubank and happy hour with Euforquestra.
Hotz, who has lived on his farm since 1995, never expected the event to be what it is today, but says he has grown fond of those involved with the event.
“To be honest, my favorite part is meeting all the people,” he says. “As a farmer you don’t have the ability to meet different people, but at this thing you do.”
For the first time in eight years, original members of the band, now based in Fort Collins, Co., that started it all will perform. Euforquestra brings its “Afro-Caribbean-Barnyard-Funk” music to the stage at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Joining the founders and local bands in the line-up are Greensky Bluegrass, rooted in Kalamazoo, Mich.; Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk from New Orleans; the dance-funk Pimps of Joytime from Brooklyn, N.Y.; and the string band sounds of Pert Near Sandstone out of Minneapolis. The music starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday, then 10:30 a.m. Saturday and runs into the wee hours of Sunday.
- Camp Euforia
- Friday and Saturday
- 5335 Utah Ave. SE, Lone Tree
- More info: Campeuforia.com
“If one of the band’s music doesn’t hit you, stick around and you will find something,” says Mark Ginsberg, whose company M.C. Ginsberg is the prime sponsor of the festival. “It doesn’t matter whether you are 60, 80, or 8 years old, you will lose your inhibitions and feel the need to get up to dance and just move. That has helped make Camp Euforia a really strong family event.”
Rita Schmidt and her husband Robert, “parents” of the boys in Euforquestra, have never missed a show.
“It’s something we would never miss, they are like our kids,” Schmidt says. “People come for a lot of different reasons, many times it’s the music and the friendship. We go to other festivals, but they don’t have the same charm that Camp Euforia has.”
Amid the rolling hills and cornfields, Camp Euforia provides an intimate, relaxed experience.
“Jerry’s farm is unique,” says Nick Cervine, one of the organizers for the bar area and close friend to Jerry. “On top of the land being beautiful and well taken care of, the crowd that makes it out here for Camp Euforia is very rich and diverse. It’s amazing.”
Coming from all walks of life, volunteers and fans alike take a weekend out of their regular day-to-day life for a weekend of memories and chitchat with old friends to soak up the conglomeration of musical talent.
“We get to see old friends who really are part of the family,” says Eric Quiner, former keyboardist for Euforquestra and now executive manager of Camp Euforia. “It’s a ton of work, but I get to relive that part of my life. This reunion is about the connection to my community from way back when and it’s just an incredible accomplishment overall.”
Planning starts in November. Volunteers help clean the barn, weed gardens, mulch and set up stages and other tasks.
“I love seeing it all come together,” Quiner says. “It’s really incredible. We take a farm and turn it into a small city for a weekend. Then by Monday, it will look like a farm again."
Friday: 4:30 p.m. The Candymakers; 5:30 p.m. Mr. Baber’s Neighbors, 6:30 p.m. Public Property; 7:30 p.m. Dumpstaphunk; 8:45 p.m. Dead Larry; 10 p.m. Euforquestra; midnight Family Groove Company; 2 a.m. Dave Zollo; 3 p.m. D. Bess.
Saturday: 10:30 a.m. The Grosso Family Band; 11:30 a.m. Maximillan Eubank; 12:30 p.m. Chasing Shade; 1:30 p.m. The Beaker Brother’s Band; 2:30 p.m. Zeta June; 3:30 p.m. Pert Near Sandstone; 4:30 p.m. Fire Sale; 5:30 p.m. Pimps of Joytime; 6:30 p.m. Uniphonics; 7:30 p.m. Greensky Bluegrass; 8:45 p.m. Ultraviolet Hippopotamus; 10 a.m. Euforquestra; midnight That 1 Guy; 2 a.m. Jaik Willis; 3 a.m. Tallgrass.
Instead of sending letters home to Mom and Dad, Hoopla’s summer intern Audrey Dwyer is sending sporadic (because, let’s be honest, she needs to have some fun too) letters home from camp to us. Except this isn’t the summer camp of your youth. At Camp Euforia, instead of s’mores there’s sangria. And kumbaya has been traded for funky beats. Like stay away camp, though, we guarantee everyone will be staying up way past their bed time.