For the past couple years, the QC Rock Academy has held a kickoff to summer concert at Schwiebert Riverfront Park in downtown Rock Island.

For the first time, Rock Academy director Greg Hipskind is planning a goodbye to summer at the park, with a new Quad Cities Youth Music & Arts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 17. The free event is expected to run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“I’ve had it in the back of my mind for quite a while for doing something like this,” Hipskind said recently. “I was down at Schwiebert Park at Chalk Art Fest and they had youth artists doing their stuff, and I thought, that’s perfect. Especially for visual artists around here, there’s not a lot of opportunities for them to show what they can do.”

He’s also good friends with Spotlight Theatre owners Brent and Sara Tubbs, and suggested giving their kids a chance to perform at the park stage, and expand the event to encompass many different art forms for area students – including music, art and dance.

One of Hipskind’s daughters is best friends with a girl in a hip-hop dance group called Dynamic Status Gems, which will strut their stuff at the Sept. 17 fest.

The majorette dance group Dynamic Status Gems will perform for the Sept. 17 festival.

Scheduled performers and artists will include:

  • QC Rock Academy bands Made Ya Look, Nonetheless, 7 Ark, Verona Tragedy, Sleepyhead and other solo performers.
  • A speed painter, Li’l Miss Iowa 2022 Harper Wittmer.
  • Students in the Midwest Writing Center Young Emerging Writers program, who will read their work.
  • Quad Cities Music Therapy students.
  • Spotlight Theatre performers.
  • Chalk artists and kids from Creative Arts Academy.
  • Independent artists and more.

QCRA had its last summer kickoff concert on May 22 at Schwiebert Park, with seven bands and a final Queen set that intermixed the bands, Hipskind said. Dan Gleason of Rock Island’s Parks and Recreation Department has been very supportive of the events, he said.

Li’l Miss Iowa 2022 Harper Wittmer, with her paintings of Freddie Mercury and The Beatles, which she did in under 5 minutes.

“I talked to Dan, and said I don’t want to do the same thing again, I want to keep that as summer kickoff,” Hipskind said of the September event.

“I got a handful of good sponsors to help pay for it,” he said, noting the city will provide burgers, hot dogs, and popcorn for sale, and Bent River will offer beer for purchase.

“It’s a funny time with the Rock Academy bands, a lot of them have graduated high school,” Hipskind said. “Kids are going off to college. In ways, it almost feels we’re rebuilding our band program. We’re losing so many heavy hitters who’ve been with us for so long. We’ve got a lot of bands, but they’re not as experienced.”

For more information on QCRA, click HERE.