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Altoona Palooza

Posted August 26, 2015 in Altoona, Cover Story, Community Cover Story

Altoona Palooza is adding some terms to festival-goers’ vocabulary of fun this year.

Maci and Jerzi Bice have fun during last year’s Altoona Palooza celebration. Photo submitted.

Maci and Jerzi Bice have fun during last year’s Altoona Palooza celebration. Photo submitted.

One is human foosball. Another is Palooza Pong.

Curious to see what these games are all about? Check them out, along with other new additions and familiar favorites, at the annual celebration on Aug. 29. It takes place from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Sam Wise Youth Complex, 1000 Eighth St. S.E. Admission is free, with food, music, kids’ activities, inflatables, various sports tournaments, car and antique tractor shows and more available.

One big change this year is that the festivities are returning to the north end of the complex, where they were originally held, says Mattia Hansen, who handles marketing and communications for Altoona Palooza.

A couple years ago, organizers had shifted some of the attractions to the south side of Sam Wise to be more visible to the community and passersby. But they found that stretching the event from the north to south ends of the complex spread things out too far, says Hansen.

“We just want to put everything back down to that north end and keep it tighter down there, and keep it more easily accessible,” she says.

Pop into Palooza to see the new attractions below. And don’t forget to go to www.altoonapalooza.com for more details and updates on this year’s fete.


Human foosball and “Palooza Pong”

Altoona Palooza is hosting its first human foosball and Palooza Pong tournaments. Teams pre-registered for the games, which will take place in the afternoon.

This year’s car show at Altoona Palooza takes place concurrently with a new event, the antique tractor show. Both begin at 8 a.m. Photo courtesy of Brent Isenberger.

This year’s car show at Altoona Palooza takes place concurrently with a new event, the antique tractor show. Both begin at 8 a.m. Photo courtesy of Brent Isenberger.

So what does human foosball look like? Participants will be playing in a life-size, inflatable foosball table, explains Keaton Van Ryswyk, who is overseeing the foosball and Palooza Pong tournaments.

Teams of eight players are limited to moving side to side, and cannot use their arms or hands (except the goalie), according to the human foosball rules posted on the Altoona Palooza website.

In Palooza Pong, teams of two people will be tossing a volleyball into oversize bins, says Hansen. Each team will have 10 bins, and each side will take turns trying to get the volleyball into the other team’s bins, which eliminates them. The team that eliminates all the bins wins.

Winners will receive “Palooza Bucks,” which can be spent on food and beverages at the event, Hansen says.

Organizers say they hope the games offer a boost of entertainment and variety during the afternoon lull. Van Ryswyk says he hopes the two additions will draw more people out to the celebration.

Van Ryswyk, who is also in charge of the festival’s kickball tournament, says these physical activities offer individuals the chance to meet people, play on a team and be active.

“I think it’s important to keep people moving while they’re also having a good time,” says Van Ryswyk, who is the youth and sports director at Altoona Campus.


Antique tractor show

At last year’s Altoona Palooza, Scott Sloan volunteered the use of a tractor owned by his employer, Titan Tire, to help shuttle folks between the north and south ends of Sam Wise.

There’s no shortage of kids activities at Altoona Palooza, which includes inflatables, along with a kids zone from 1-4 p.m. that offers free pony rides and various activities. Photo submitted.

There’s no shortage of kids activities at Altoona Palooza, which includes inflatables, along with a kids zone from 1-4 p.m. that offers free pony rides and various activities. Photo submitted.

When that plan fell through, he decided to park it at the car show, Sloan says.

“There was a lot of interest in it,” he says. “There were a lot of people looking at it.”

From that response sprung the idea for an antique tractor show, which will take place concurrently with the car show. Both will begin at 8 a.m.

There’s a $15 entry fee. Registrations will be accepted before and the day of the event. The antique tractor club with the most entries will receive $150, he says.

Their goal, Sloan says, is to have 100 entries. Those who want more information can contact him at 208-1087 or Scott.Sloan@titan-intl.com.

Having the chance to get a closer look at these machines and how they work will be a unique experience particularly for kids, some of whom may never have seen such tractors before, says Sloan.


Juggler, cotton candy, pony rides and more

A juggler and cotton candy are being added at the free kids’ zone, which runs from 1-4 p.m. and is sponsored by the Altoona Public Library.Mud volleyball #2. Altoona Palooza

There will also be face painting, balloon twisting, “Palooza bingo” and pony rides, says library director Kim Kietzman.

The ponies, which debuted last year, were a big hit — which didn’t surprise Kietzman.

“You could hear kids from the other side of the ball park yelling, ‘Ponies! Ponies!’ ” she laughs.

The ponies also ended up being a great marketing tool for the kids’ area. People would initially come for the rides, Kietzman says and discover that there was a variety of children’s activities available.

Each child will receive a punch card and can do each activity once, she explains, which ensures that everyone gets a chance to do everything.

“It’s three really packed hours,” she says. “Everything is free. It’s all kid-oriented.”

Kietzman says the response has been great.

“It’s been packed,” she says. “Last year was nuts. People have been so nice and appreciative. We feel like we get as much out of it as we think the public does.”

It’s been an opportunity for the library to give back to the community, she says, while also making connections with people outside of the library setting.

“We love interacting with people this way,” says Kietzman.


Home run derby fundraiser

This is the first year the Greater Altoona Girls Softball Association is holding a home run derby fundraiser at Altoona Palooza.altoona palooza2

It will be held at the softball field, and there will be youth and adult divisions, says Brian Osborn, president of the association. Participants can preregister for a time slot by emailing admin@gagsa.org or they can sign up the day of the event beginning at 11 a.m., as long as spots are available. The derby starts at noon.

The entry fee is $10 per person. Winners in both divisions will receive trophies.

Bats will be available for use or participants can use their own, says Osborn. Each person will get 10 outs. Adults will hit from home plate; youths from a shorter distance.

The association’s board decided to take part in Altoona Palooza to become more involved in the community and raise awareness for their group, Osborn says.

The organization was established more than 20 years ago and offers two programs for girls in Altoona and the surrounding area, he explains. The recreational league (6U to 14U) holds its games at Sam Wise and has an end-of-year tournament.

Their tournament program (8U to 14U) is a more competitive environment, with players who have more advanced skills, he says. They travel to games in the Des Moines area as well as outside of Iowa.

The money raised from the home run derby will go back to the organization’s programs and for maintenance and improvements to the facilities at Sam Wise, Osborn says.


New bands

It will be the first year at Altoona Palooza for all of this year’s musical acts, Hansen says.

The opening band, Drive Thirty5, will play from – 5:30 p.m. Richie Lee & the Fabulous ’50s follow, taking the stage from 6-8 p.m. Standing Hampton wraps up the evening, entertaining the crowd from 8:30-11 p.m.


Day-long fun

The newest members of the festival lineup join an already packed schedule. The Palooza party starts off bright and early with the Kiwanis pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. The popular mud volleyball tournament begins at 10 a.m., with kickball gearing up at noon. Inflatables, the beer garden, food and various vendors will be available throughout the day.


A worthwhile commitment

Jason Tuttle, co-chairman of Altoona Palooza, has been involved since the beginning.

It was a way to get more involved in the community and meet people, Tuttle says. He also remembers attending Altoona’s balloon festival as a kid and wanted to see the return of that type of community celebration.cover

The gathering not only brings Altoona’s citizens closer together, Tuttle says, it also helps businesses get their name out.

Tuttle says he’s continued to be a part of Altoona Palooza because he enjoys the challenges that come with pulling off such an undertaking. It’s also given him the opportunity to make new friends.

His favorite part of Palooza is the day of the event and the energy and happiness it brings to others.

“People come in, they’re excited, you see kids running around, having a good time — just the smiles it brings to people,” he says. ” I’m really glad that our town does support it.”


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