The Elk Grove Strauss Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
And synonymous with this annual event is the name Iris Zimbelman whose idea it was to establish the festival.
While traveling in Europe in the early 1980s with her husband Arnie, she recognized that each little town they visited had some type of music festival.
Arnie recalled his late wife’s reaction to observing those festivals.
“Wherever we were at, there was always some kind of music playing,” he said. “She said, ‘Why can’t we do this in Elk Grove?’”
Iris’ dream of bringing a live music festival to Elk Grove did not fade, as she ultimately pursued establishing a Strauss Festival at Elk Grove Regional Park.
She selected the music of the “Waltz King” of Vienna Johann Strauss Jr. because she felt it would draw larger audiences than other classical music.
While in Vienna, Iris observed a group of dancers perform to the music of Strauss in Stadtpark, the official park of that city.
For two years prior to the inaugural Strauss Festival in 1987, Iris worked diligently to gather community support and volunteers for the event and establish fundraisers.
And it was also Iris who brought forth the idea that Elk Grove was in need of a performing arts facility that would be suitable for the festival.
After approaching Dick Lichtenberger, who assisted in the effort to construct the senior center on Sharkey Avenue, the Strauss Festival Committee of Elk Grove was formed to both create the festival and have it held at a new performing arts facility.
click here to read more.