Two new events are coming this month to Sioux City to build a space for and connect the different cultures, backgrounds, and people who have made the city home over the years.
Sounds of West 7th
The first one is Sounds of West 7th, a free music festival, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at the food truck lot, Yummi Blox, at 700 West Seventh St.
Semehar Arguello, community inclusion liaison for the city of Sioux City, said it was likely the “first-ever Black music festival” in town.
“There hasn’t been one that I know of in the last five years, and I don’t think they’ve had anything really organized like this in the city’s history,” she said.
And this music festival is all about Sioux City, particularly the history of the area.
“West Seventh, historically, was a very Black, Jewish and immigrant-based community, particularly the Asian community,” Arguello said. “It’s fun that we’re able to kind of pay homage to what was there, and I think music is one of those perfect ways of doing it because music takes you back.”
Arguello said they’re prioritizing musicians who are in Sioux City, and while it’s starting with mostly Black-focused artists, she would like to expand and find Jewish artists, immigrant artists and Asian artists who can be featured in the future.
During the festival, there will be five food trucks and activities like a historic tour of the neighborhood hosted by Matt Anderson, the curator of history at the Sioux City Public Museum. Jim Tillman, author of the Journal of African American History—which tells the stories of the African Americans who helped shape Sioux City—will also be there to speak.
Sounds of West 7th isn’t the only idea though.
Multicultural Talent Show
The Inclusive Sioux City Advisory Committee, which Arguello serves as staff liaison for, is putting on a Multicultural Talent Show in the ballroom of the Warrior Hotel.
Free auditions, open to anyone and any talent, will be held at the Sioux City Public Library’s Gleeson Room on Wednesday, Sept. 13, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The show will take place on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. Tickets will cost $10.
“I want to see all the levels of culture there,” Arguello said. “Whether it’s culture as an ethnic background, whether it’s, you know, religious… I don’t care. I want to see it all on stage.”
She came up with the idea because she tried out for talent shows when she was younger and found there was always a barrier, from the audition fees to her talent—cultural dancing—not recognized by judges who weren’t familiar with it.
“So we wanted to create a venue for folks to be able to show off their talents,” Arguello said.
There will also be prizes: $1,000 for first place, $500 for runner-up and $250 for the crowd favorite. The audition is mostly a formality to have a sense of how big the show will be and what talents will be showcased.
Why it’s important in Sioux City
One of the biggest goals of both events, Arguello said, is to attract young people. There’s a sense that there isn’t much to do for young people, and she said it’s important to show them that it doesn’t have to be that way and new events and activities can be created.
Arguello pointed to Alley Art Festival (coming Sept. 23) as an example of an outside-the-box event community members thought up. There were no expectations it would take off, but it’s become a staple event people look forward to and come back to enjoy.
“I want [young people] to see what Sioux City has and appreciate it,” she said. “If you like this kind of programming or you like being a part of this, or you’re a music fanatic and you can sing or you have a talent, you’ve got to put yourself out there. This is just one of those events that you can be able to do that.”
Arguello also wants to help people connect to each other, to their cultures, and to the cultures of the people around them.
“This is purely for fun. This is purely to be able to enjoy each other, to learn more about each other’s cultures,” Arguello said. “I think sometimes we stop at, ‘How can I help you?’ instead of just like, ‘Hey, I’m just so excited to see what you got.’”
And so far she’s heard a lot of excitement for both events.
“I think people underestimate Sioux City folk,” Arguello said. “Sioux City people are excited for things. I don’t know if everyone executes ideas, but I think people have good ideas here. And so I think it’s a matter of just executing them.”
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