May 27, 2024

Newton Fest announces Nelson as 2019 headliner

Rock group to play June 8 at Maytag Bowl

Newton Fest organizers announced Friday the American rock band Nelson will perform “An Evening with the Nelsons” — a summer playlist of the group’s greatest hits, as well as other familiar songs at 2019’s community celebration.

Comprised of twins Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, the group discovered its first taste of success in 1990 after releasing its double-platinum debut album “After the Rain,” which spawned Nelson’s first No. 1 hit “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection.”

That song and many others by the blond-haired brothers will be performed June 8 at Maytag Bowl in Maytag Park.

As the sons of rock-n-roller Ricky Nelson, Matthew and Gunnar will also perform some of their father’s past tunes to honor their musical ancestry and background, Newton Fest co-chair Jessica Lowe Vokes confirmed. Both musicians are also the grandsons to Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Hilliard, of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” fame.

Admission to the Nelson concert at Newton Fest is free to the public. A local music spotlight is also being arranged by central Iowa recording studio, 301 Studios, in the courtyard of Legacy Plaza outside of The Cellar Peanut Pub.

This year marks a turning point for the entertainment and legacy of Newton Fest. In years past, organizers booked local and regional acts to perform during the large-scale community event. To have an internationally known band like Nelson perform for Newton residents is a “huge feather in our cap,” Lowe Vokes said.

“We’re super excited about it,” Lowe Vokes said. “This is going to be a year that really makes Newton Fest a regional draw because I think people are going to say, ‘Oh my gosh, look at these cool things they’re doing over in Newton!’ and they’re going to want to come and be apart of those activities.”

Newton Fest was founded in 2015 as part of the city’s “Get to Know Newton” initiative. According to the event’s website, the idea for Newton Fest came from a group of local citizens who noted a lack of fun, family-friendly and affordable community celebrations. Organizers encourage all residents to get out of their homes and celebrate all things Newton.

In January, Newton Fest officials announced actor Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster in the iconic 1960s TV sitcom “The Munsters,” will bring a special appearance at the Newton Chamber of Commerce Cool Car Show June 8. The former child star will be bringing along the famous cars featured in “The Munsters,” include the Munster Koach and the Drag-u-la.

Danielle Rogers, co-chair of Newton Fest, said having high-end entertainment to attract visitors to the festival is exciting and will allow members of the community, business owners and organization representatives to promote themselves and what they do in town.

“We’ve been able to grow it to such a point that we’re bringing in internationally known artists, bringing Butch Patrick — bigger names — to the community and having more people excited about the events,” Rogers said. “It’s about celebrating Newton for our local residents, but it’s also bringing the surrounding communities into Newton to talk about and share our pride and our community.”

Newton Fest will kick off June 6. Organizers have yet to finalize a full schedule.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or