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College Hill Arts Festival Records

Manuscript Collection: MsC-65

College Hill Arts Festival, records, publications, and papers, 1978-2003. 27 linear feet.

History of the Festival

The best source for the history of the College Hill Arts Festival is "College Hill Arts Festival, 1979-2003 and the Left Bank Days, 1978", compiled by Karen Mukai, with the assistance of C. Hugh Pettersen, March 2006.  This extended essay surveys the festival, year-by-year, in great depth and breadth.  It includes yearly highlights as well as extensive yearly summaries.  There is a copy of this essay in Box 1 of this collection.

In the summer of 1978, the College Hill Merchant and Professional Association sponsored a small art show, called Left Bank Days, on College Hill sidewalks.  This show gave the Association the confidence to hold a larger show, called the College Hill Arts Festival, in 1979.  The festival has continued to be held in every year since then.  The show has grown in size, variety, quality, and complexity over the years to become a significant and well-recognized event among artists and art lovers on local, regional, and national levels.  From its initial location along the sidewalks of College Hill, the festival now takes place on the shaded northeast corner of the University of Northern Iowa campus.

Many University of Northern Iowa faculty and staff have been associated with the festival in leadership positions, including Len Froyen and Mary Sue Bartlett.

The festival has also benefited from the longstanding committment and participation of well-known artist Gary Kelley.


Karen Mukai devoted a considerable amount of time to organizing the records of the College Hill Arts Festival before she asked University Archivist Gerald Peterson if the University Archives would be a suitable location for the material.  Because of the importance of the festival to both the University of Northern Iowa and the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Gerald Peterson accepted the material.  He picked up the records at Karen Mukai's house in 2005.

Karen Mukai, with the help of C. Hugh Pettersen, did an excellent job of organizing the records before she turned them over to the University Archives.  Consequently, processing consisted primarily of housing material in archival standard containers.  The arrangement of the collection follows Karen Mukai's arrangemt in nearly all respects.  A minor variation consists of slight alterations of some of the folder labels to establish greater year-by-year consistency.  However, in almost all cases, the processed folder contents are the same as they were when they arrived in the University Archives.

The volume of material for each year of the festival increased over time to reflect the growth of the festival in extent and complexity.  Records of early festival years fill only a few folders; records of later years fill an entire records carton.  The growth in the volume of records is most noticeable in the area relating to festival finances, especially after the festival emerged from the sponsorship of the College Hill Merchant and Professional Association in 1991

Material for each festival year is arranged along the following lines, though not all categories of folders are present for every year:

  • Programs, promotional booklets, and other publications
  • Meeting minutes
  • Correspondence, sometimes divided into general, incoming, outgoing, artist, organizer, and "Thank You" note folders
  • Artists, including mailing lists, artist applications, artist responses, artist information packets, and award winners
  • Patrons, including mailing lists, contributions, and purchases
  • Jurying and judging
  • Information on recurring administrative matters, events, or promotions associated with the festival, including calendars, Web sites, evaluations, buffets, and peforming artists
  • Notes and forms, a miscellaneous folder that may include work forms, samples, and sometimes quite informative notes by the festival organizers about festival planning
  • Finances, including bank statements, receipts, and treasurer's forms
  • Newclippings and publicity, including news releases and advertising
    • Note: Nearly all newsclippings were photocopied onto archival paper.  Original newsclippings were retained only if they included color illustrations.  In those cases, the clippings were photocopied, but the originals were retained.
  • Photographs, including images of artists and their work, judges, jurors, organizers, patrons, award winners, and crowd scenes
    • Special note on photographs: The records for most years of the festival include good collections of photographs.  Most photographs are color prints, but there are also some black and white prints and a few slide transparencies. Some photographs are clearly labeled; most are not.  Some photographic prints are still associated with their negatives.  If that association was apparent to the processor of the collection, he made every effort to retain that association.  For example, if prints and negatives were in the same commercial photographic processing envelope, then both the prints and negatives were placed in the same folder.  This led to a certain amount of imprecision, because it was apparent that there was not a complete match between associated prints and negatives even in the same commercial envelope.  In some cases, for example, there seemed to be a complete series of negative strips for a roll of film, perhaps twenty-four or thirty-six negatives, but only a dozen prints.  Still, it seemed best to retain any association that apparently existed between negatives and prints.

      Researchers should also note that there is a large number of undated photographs located in Box 14 of this collection.

Researchers interested in the College Hill Arts Festival may also be interested in the papers of the Cedar Arts Forum, which are held in the University Archives.


Container Inventory

Box 1

  • "College Hill Arts Festival, 1979-2003 and the Left Bank Days, 1978", by Karen Mukai, with the assistance of C. Hugh Pettersen, March 2006
  • Records of Left Bank Days, 1978
  • Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1979-1983

Box 2

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1983-1985

Box 3

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1986-1988

Box 4

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1989-1992

Box 5

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1992-1994

Box 6

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1994-1995

Box 7

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1995-1996

Box 8

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1997

Box 9

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1998

Box 10

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 1999-2000

Box 11

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 2000-2001

Box 12

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 2001-2002

Box 13

Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 2002-2003

Box 14

  • Records of the College Hill Arts Festival, 2003
  • Programs, 2004, 2006
  • Programs, 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Programs, 2010
  • Map of festival, area attractions, 2011
  • T-shirt sales and prints, 2011
  • Programs, 2011
  • Programs, 2012
  • Programs, 2013
  • Program, 2014
  • Program, 2015
  • Local publicity, 2011
  • Regional publicity, 2011
  • Newspaper publicity, 2011
  • Bank deposit records, 1989-1999
  • Check register, 1989-1999
  • Stationery
  • Notes and forms, undated
  • Photographs, undated

Box 15

College Hill Arts Festival calendars for the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004

Box 16

  • College Hill Arts Festival banners: "Information" and "Information and Patron Booth"
  • Baseball cap with 23rd and College street sign logo
  • T-shirts from 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 25th anniversary festivals; shirt with eye logo; shirt with bird on artist's palette; shirt with College Hill street scene logo; shirt with artist painting spots on cow; shirt with dog catching artist's palette; shirt with woman reclining; shirt with cat on chair

Box 17

Videotapes (VHS format)


  • Patron's Purchase Award ribbon
  • Certificate for gold medal awarded by Society of Illustrators at its 46th annual exhibition for work by Gary Kelley
  • Waterloo Courier arts supplement, undated
  • Cedar Falls Chamber of Commerce plaque awarded to College Hill Arts Festival for Tourism, Recreation, and Entertainment, 2003
  • Gary Kelley note cards
  • Festival staff badges
  • Arts festival '92, shot by Craig Repp
  • '92
  • College Hill Arts Festival, probably 1992, including student activity, woodwind performers, balloons (first year for balloon sculpture), and artists A. B. Gardner, Dean Schwarz, Darla Ellickson, Jo Myers, Steve Maxon, and John Skare
  • College Hill Arts Festival, '94, KWWL advertisement
  • College Hill Arts Festival, '95, KWWL advertisement
  • Interviews with three College Hill Arts Festival artists, "Artists and Ideas", produced by Cedar Fall Utilities Cablevision; Mary Snyder Behrens, host, artists Margaret Whiting (book art), Priscilla Stule (printmaker), and Dean Schwarz (ceramics); musical groups Alma Iowana and Black Sheep
  • College Hill Arts Festival, 1996 advertisement
  • College Hill Arts Festival, 1996 advertisement, revised
  • College Hill Arts Festival, 1997 advertisement
  • College Hill Arts Festival, July 1998
  • College Hill Arts Festival, 1999 ("not used")
  • College Hill Arts Festival, 1999, KWWL advertisement
  • KWWL interview with artist Marit Kucera, probably 2001, two minutes
  • College Hill Arts Festival, 2001, KWWL advertisement
  • Currents, up close, 2002
  • KWWL advertisement, 2002
  • Art Festival '03, 2003
  • Currents, up close, 2003

2011 College Hill Arts Festival calendar

Karen Mukai's notes used in compiling College Hill Arts Festival history, 1978-2003


Boxes 18 and 19  (Oversized boxes)

College Hill Arts Festival posters, 1979-1987, 1989-1991, 1995-2003 (some signed by Gary Kelley)


Box 20

College Hill Arts Festival, Award of Excellence banners (2)


Box 21

College Hill Arts Festival, T-shirts


Box 22



Exit survey, 2007

Storm damage photographs

Legal and tax matters


Collection processed and finding aid prepared by University Archivist Gerald L. Peterson, February 2007; additional material added in increments over the years; last modified, January 25, 2016 (GP).