By Eric Mistry
When the spring semester ends and most students leave Grinnell until the fall, the town does not shut down. Quite the opposite, Grinnell offers a plethora of engaging activities for those who stay for the summer. From sports events to artistic adventures to shopping opportunities, there are tons of things to keep anyone busy between Commencement and New Student Orientation.
This summer’s festivities start with a blast of energy in the Grinnell Games. The second annual Grinnell Games will bring athletes of all calibers from multiple states to compete in a variety of both traditional and novel events between June 7-9.
This year, a 10K twilight run around Rock Creek State Park will join the 5K and half-marathon races around town. A popular and fun-spirited returning event offered in the Grinnell Games is the “Warrior Race,” a 5K race filled with a multitude of obstacles, including mud, climbing walls and hands-and-knees crawls.
“We’ve spent a lot of time developing new obstacles with fun names for this year,” said Chamber of Commerce Communications Manager Emily Counts. “It’s a really popular race and even if someone doesn’t want to do all of the obstacles, they have a great time. A lot of friends race together, helping each other to complete the challenges.”
Other events include both fast-paced and family bike races, in addition to a scavenger hunt-style race that takes competing teams around the town sights and businesses.
“We’d love to see any students that are here for the summer come compete and have fun,” Counts said.
The prizes are worth competing for, especially with some of the events offering a range of cash prizes for the top finishers, as well as merchandise prizes for teams with the wildest costumes and team spirit.
If athletics are not one’s idea of fun, the Grinnell Area Arts Council (GAAC) has a host of art-themed activities, camps and projects going on over the summer season.
“There’s a variety of awesome performances happening this summer,” said Kate Baumgartner, Arts Center Coordinator of the GAAC. “We’ve got the large performance of Peter Pan happening in town in July, as well as weekly musical performances at our Music in the Park series.”
In addition to organizing the various performances around town, GAAC offers a range of classes on different topics, from creative writing to dance to the visual arts. “Spirited Sketching,” an arts class offered by Evan Hockett ’12, blends sketching lessons with wine sampling, a combination that Baumgartner claims to be popular across the community.
To learn more about the collection of classes offered this summer or how to get involved, Baumgartner recommended checking out the GAAC’s website (www.grinnellarts.org) or contacting them directly at their offices (641-236-3203).
“We’ve got a lot to offer and we’re always looking for new ways to connect with students and artists,” Baumgartner said.
In addition to the special events, there are quite a few regular events and activities that those spending a Grinnell summer will have time to take advantage of. The town Aquatic Center, replete with twisting towering slides, distance pools and lazy rivers, is a refreshing option. The Aquatic Center is close to campus, up 8th Avenue, and free for all students who show a college ID.
Another great opportunity is the downtown Farmer’s Market. Every Thursday and Saturday, local vendors will sell fresh produce, baked goods and more. The shops in town are also open and nice summer weather combined with no classes give students the chance to really explore the downtown area.
“We’d definitely encourage students to check out all the great places downtown,” Counts said. “It’s an amazing area and you can really enjoy it all in the summer.”