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Coined “Iowa’s first hip-hop festival,” the newly launched Fresh Fest is set to take place in downtown Des Moines this August.

The event is slated for August 19 and 20 at the Des Moines Social Club. Fresh Fest plans to feature two stages of performances, as well as hip-hop freestyle battles, multiple DJs, a fashion show and more.

“It’s a celebration of everyone’s hard work,” said Marquas Ashworth, who goes by his stage name, MarKaus. “(It’s) celebrating diversity and culture in Des Moines.”

Around 30 acts will perform between the two days, said MarKaus, who is curating the event.

As well as featuring Iowa acts, artists from South Dakota, Colorado Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota and other states will be headed to Des Moines to appear at the event. MarKaus said the event plans to focus on independent artists.

“I feel like the city is, more so than ever, open to hip-hop,” MarKaus said. “I feel like it’s the proper time.”

Acts will perform in various locations at the Social Club, including the rooftop, Basement Bar and Kum & Go Theater. The lineup is set to be announced in June at the monthly hip-hop showcase, Freshen Up, which takes place in the Des Moines Social Club Basement Bar.

Monthly show brings 'fresh state of mind' to hip-hop scene

Mickey Davis, Des Moines Social Club programming director, said he believes "it's great to see this city's burgeoning hip-hop scene have a flagship event."

"Working with MarKaus and other organizers in Des Moines has clued me in to just how many hip hop artists exist in this town," Davis said. "And I am happy to see an event celebrating the breadth and diversity of voices here."

Fans will have the opportunity to cast a vote in who performs, MarKaus said. He plans to launch a community voting forum on May 27 and the five who receive the most votes will get a slot during the festival.

Visit mediafreshrecords.com for more information.

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