Altoona Palooza Makes its Glorious, Muddy Return

the buzz altoona palooza

After a pandemic-year hiatus, the community festival returns Saturday, August 28th at the Sam Wise Sports Complex. This year’s event features new activities, old favorites—and, of course, the infamous Mud Volleyball Tournament.

Every summer (well, almost every summer) thousands of Altoona residents and visitors come together to eat, drink and be merry.

And throw inflatable axes.

Oh, and drag each other through the mud (you know, in a friendly, neighborly way).

For the uninitiated, Altoona Palooza is an all-day outdoor festival in Altoona, Iowa—a massive field day for adults and children alike. Admission is free, as are many (but not all) of the activities.

The fun starts early with a pancake breakfast and runs late into the evening, with friendly competitions (mud volleyball, bags, inflatable axe-throwing, tug-of war), activities for families (a car show, inflatables, and a Kid Zone), food trucks, and an all-day beer garden, with nearly nine hours of live music throughout the afternoon and evening.

This year’s headliner is FlashMob!, a Minneapolis-based pop, dance and rock cover band. They take the stage at 8:30PM.

But it’s not all fun and games! As the Altoona community continues to grow, Steve Moyna, who helped found the event back in 2010, says that Altoona Palooza is an opportunity to bring neighbors closer together—and potentially create some new connections.

“Our hope is that people are going to meet a neighbor they haven’t met before, potentially a new friend or business partner,” said Steve, the Vice President of Business Development at Elder Corp, a sponsor of Visit Altoona and Altoona Palooza.

“Altoona is now home to about 20,000 people. Personally, I only know about 19,500, so I’m trying to meet the last 500—then I never have to leave town again.”

What’s new this year?

While Palooza’s most popular activities are making their return—of the three co-chairs/founders we spoke with, all three named Mud Volleyball as their personal favorite—some interesting new competitions are making their debut:

  • Mud Tug-of-War: In the past, Mud Volleyball has easily been the Palooza’s muddiest event. This one’s a strong contender.
  • Bags Tournament: A game best played with a cold drink in hand.
  • Inflatable Axe-Throwing: A non-lethal alternative to the trendy new sport. If you’ve been doing a lot of inflatable weightlifting, this one’s for you.

What to know before you go

When: August 28th, 8AM-11PM

Where: Sam Wise Sports Complex, Altoona, IA

Tickets: Admission is free, no tickets required


  • Kiwanis Breakfast: 8 – 11 a.m.
  • Mud Volleyball: Registration begins at 9 a.m., Play starts at 10 a.m.
  • Mud Tug-of-War: 1 p.m. at the Mud Volleyball courts (FREE just show up!!)
  • Car Show: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Judging from noon – 2 p.m.)
  • Bags Tournament: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Kid Zone: 1 – 4 p.m.
  • Business & Product Vendors: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Food Trucks: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Inflatables: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Inflatable axe throwing until 9 p.m.)
  • Live Music: 2 – 11 p.m. (2-3:30 p.m. Backstage Boogie Band, 4-5:30 p.m. Lincoln Highway, 6-8 p.m. The Snacks, 8:30-11 p.m. FlashMob!)
  • Beer Garden: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Get involved!

Since the beginning, Altoona Palooza has been run entirely by volunteers—that’s how they’re able to keep costs low and admission free!

The organizers of this year’s event are hoping to have 100 volunteers, but they need your help to reach that goal.

And there are perks! In addition to supporting your community and making this amazing festival possible, all volunteers will receive a free Altoona Palooza volunteer t-shirt. We bet you’ll be pretty popular if you wear it around town.

Mary Simon, who co-founded the event in 2010 and has volunteered ever since, says that volunteering is a great way to give back—and get something invaluable in return.

“I started volunteering as a way to get involved in Altoona and to help give back to the community I live and work in,” she said. “Through volunteering, I also found that you have the opportunity to meet some truly amazing people and develop lasting relationships.

“Honestly, it’s one of the best ways to pay your civic rent.”

To volunteer for AltoonaPalooza, click here and hit the SignUp button.

Learn more about the festival or pre-register for an activity here.

About the Buzz

The Buzz is an ongoing Visit Altoona feature sponsored by Polk County. Thank you to Polk County for supporting the Altoona community and helping us promote local businesses and events!