‘Des Moines is a Music City,’ Says Longtime 80/35 Festival Volunteer

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DES MOINES, Iowa — If you were downtown Saturday evening, you would have heard the loud music and cheering from the 12th annual 80/35 Music Festival. It takes hundreds of volunteers and workers to put on the festival each year, but one man has been there through it all.

“I was just a young kid. I was 17 at the time. I just started out and I was volunteering for the festival running ice and Gatorade. That was my job that year,” 80/35 Music Festival production manager Darren Hushak said.

Hushak has been working at the 80/35 Music Festival all 12 years. He said it gets better every year, but he will never forget that first year with the Flaming Lips as the headliner.

“The Flaming Lips, part of their show is they bring a bunch of fans onstage and just dance around in funny costumes. I had been busting my butt all day and the Des Moines Music Coalition had gotten an extra dance pass and they’re like ‘lets send Darren up. He’s been working hard all day,’ and so I got to be a red Teletubby on stage with the Flaming Lips the first year,” Hushak said.

This year the festival redid the layout, so people can walk from stage to stage within five minutes. Hushak said this adds to the overall experience of the festival in the heart of the city.

“The downtown Des Moines skyline right behind the main stage, that’s a big part of what 80/35 is and what it represents to Des Moines, to just be right downtown and Des Moines is a music city. That’s what we’re trying to make it and that’s what 80/35 is doing,” Hushak said.

Hushak was in band and theater in high school and always tried to work in the music scene in Des Moines. He said working for 80/35 has been a dream job.

“12-year-ago me would be incredibly impressed to see me here now,” Hushak said.

The work is not over for him after 80/35. He works in audio production for shows and events across the metro, including shows at Water Works and for different political events.


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