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Connecting to the Culture Through YPC

80/35 and YPC

July 19, 2023

Earlier this month, we had the 80/35 Music Festival in Western Gateway Park in Downtown Des Moines (DSM). The festival celebrates music and culture and is a cornerstone of community development in the region.

80/35 Volunteers

I got involved as a volunteer through Young Professionals Connection (YPC), knowing nothing about the music festival. I've lived in Greater Des Moines (DSM) for nearly nine years and had never heard of it, but I was blown away by how popular (and packed) it was. The festival draws over 25,000 people to the heart of the city annually. This influx of festival attendees generates a cultural exchange that fuels the community's creativity, innovation and understanding, making Downtown DSM a more dynamic and attractive place to live and work. There were so many business owners and visitors I had a chance to talk with, and it was amazing to see all the cultures tied together through the food, music and attendees.

Stage at Night 

Growing Local Talent

The festival's investment in local music talent plays a crucial role in shaping DSM's cultural landscape. By organizing youth music education, a professional development conference for aspiring musicians and local artist showcases, the 80/35 music festival provides platforms for local talent to grow and flourish. This fosters a more vibrant and diverse music scene, which can act as a catalyst for creativity within the community.

Hy-Vee Main Stage

Over time, this impact has been transformative, bringing together individuals of diverse backgrounds, fostering an inclusive environment, elevating local artists and enriching the local music scene.


80/35's commitment to inclusivity is embodied in its 'Pay it Forward Donated Ticket Fund.' By offering free and sliding-scale tickets, 80/35 ensures that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, has an opportunity to attend the festival and be a part of this experience. It opens access to cultural events and fosters social cohesion, as people from all walks of life come together to enjoy and appreciate the power of music. Organizations like the Des Moines Music Coalition which hosts the 80/35 Music Festival, are invaluable conduits that link individuals and businesses to the vibrant and eclectic cultural experiences of DSM. They help to channel the energy and creativity that the festival ignites, transforming it into tangible opportunities for personal growth and community development.

Event Staff

As we continue through this year, I'm excited to see the other opportunities YPC presents. If you've spent any time with the Greater Des Moines Partnership or YPC, you'll quickly realize they are different from the other networking groups. Organizations like The Partnership and YPC are vital in connecting their members to unique opportunities and experiences.


80/35, YPC, The Partnership and all the organizations involved truly open up the music culture to DSM, and the inclusivity, culture and involvement are beautiful.

You can check the 80/35 website before next year's event to find up-to-date volunteer information. In the meantime, live music enthusiasts should consider volunteering for the World Food & Music Festival next month, where cultural acts will be in abundance. Info can be found here.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options. 

Samuel Malkasian

Samuel Malkasian is a Marketing Consultant with DSM.Studio and Marketing Chair for the Young Professionals Connection (YPC), an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.