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Festival to Benefit Music Program

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28)--Festivals are usually a time to celebrate and have fun, but one group is taking their event one step further.

Organizers of the Irish District Music and Arts Festival say their event helps put musical instruments in the hands of little ones.

Some say music is the rhythm of life, for the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy Guitar Program it's also what keeps them going.

"They are helping actually purchase 42 guitars that we loan out for free as well as well as the programing for the classes, said Clint Cornell, of the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy.

Clint Cornell is talking about the Irish District Music and Arts fest.

For the past three years, this is how they've raised money for the arts academy through live music and dance performances.

"It's been a few thousand dollars. We're trying to up it every year and our goal is to be able to keep adding kids to the program, said Tom Erger, Irish District Music and Arts Festival President.

That's because the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy supports k through 12 students in Eastern Iowa Schools.

They offer after school arts programming at no cost to children who can't afford it.

"It's possible this is a lifelong passion. We could have them hanging around the studio for the next five, six, seven years getting real good. Working with local musicians like a couple that are here performing today, Cornell said.

"This is a vehicle that they can really, really have a little extra time to really get good at what they love to do, Erger said.

Tom Erger says this festival originally started as a way to uplift the North East neighborhood.

"We think it's a great little corner of Cedar Rapids that has a lot to offer, he said, especially with the arts program.

"It's just, to see their faces, that's why we do it, Cornell said.

More than 1,000 people came out to the festival last year.

It helped them raise three thousand dollars. They hope to beat that number tonight.
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