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September Art & History

In Ames, school is in session, but art and history are not just for classroom teaching, but can be a whole lot of fun…

The Iowa State Center Begins Its Celebration of 50 years of Performing Arts Programing*

In the fall of 1969, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra opened the first performance season at C. Y. Stephens Auditorium in Ames with a five-performance, week-long festival. This year Stephens Auditorium will begin a year-long campaign to celebrate 50 years of programing history launched by that premier event.

Stephens Auditorium, a 2,747 seat performing arts facility, is a part of the Iowa State Center on the Iowa State University Campus. In 2005, this architectural landmark was noted for its excellence and cultural impact and named Iowa’s Building of the 20th Century by the American Institute of Architects Iowa Chapter. The proscenium curtain, an atypical tapestry creation commissioned in 1969 named “Silver Code”, was restored in 2014. it is a work of art and a marvel to see.

Since its beginning, C. Y. Stephens auditorium is not limited to holding only classical performances of music and theater. The first year also included Kenny Rogers and his rock band the First Edition, known for “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)“, with The Cowsills performing their hit “Indian Lake” as the warm-up act. After all, it was 1969. The variety of programing continues today and provides central Iowa with world-class entertainment options perhaps expected only in larger cities.

The celebration will include exciting performances from around the world. The 2018-2019 Performing Arts Series kicks off with a performance from Steve Martin and Martin Short on September 23, 2018. And, just weeks before this formal season opener, on September 5th, Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band will be on stage; once again highlighting the range of performances found in Stephens Auditorium and Ames.

More September events in Ames focus on Art and History…

48th Octagon Art Festival – September 23rd * 

On Sunday, September 23rd there will be more than 100 professional artists from across the Midwest who produce and display original artwork in a wide variety of media. This festival is held outdoors in Downtown Ames, rain or shine, and admission is free.

Smithsonian “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” –  September 29 – November 11*

“Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” is a traveling exhibition and demonstrates how our hometown sports energize the community, instill pride, and create a bond that is passed from one generation to the next.

“Hometown Teams” is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils nationwide. Downtown Ames, in partnership with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Main Street Iowa (MSI) is bringing the exhibit to Central Iowa. “Hometown Teams” will be located at the Octagon Center for the Arts with complementing exhibits on display at the Ames Public Library, the Ames Historical Society, and ISU Design on Main.

And one last event to close out Summer…

Glow Night @ Story City – September 30 

Come join the Carousel for Glow Night! in Story City (just north of Ames) on Sunday, September 30 at 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Completely restored in 1982 and on the National Register of Historic Places, the carousel is one of only 100 wooden antique carousels still functioning today. The 1913 hand carved wooden carousel operates from May-September in Story City’s North Park. September 30 is the last day to enjoy Carousel rides for the 2018 season. Enjoy glow-in-the-dark Carousel rides and much more! Lights will turn off at 7PM!

Want more fun Ames and Iowa State University events? Visit for a full list!

* All events marked with an asterisk (*) are funded in part by the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau Community Grant Program. The program funds a wide range of events and activities that are open to the public and enhance both residents’ and visitors’ experiences. Learn more about the program here.