The University of Iowa

Hancher Auditorium and the Iowa River at sunrise


The University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium and IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering (IIHR) as well as the City of Iowa City are canceling The Big Splash!, a two-day festival described as “a free outdoor extravaganza of music, dance, circus arts, and spectacle.”

The riverside event was planned as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University of Iowa’s IIHR, one of the most renowned units on campus. It was also intended as a celebration of the Iowa River and the ways in which the campus and community can interact and coexist with it.

“It truly breaks our heart to cancel The Big Splash!,” said Chuck Swanson, Hancher’s executive director. “We were so excited about bringing this one-of-a-kind event to our campus and community. And we were so excited to work with such a great collection of partners—including the City of Iowa City and our friends at IIHR. Collaboration is central to our work, and The Big Splash! was really going to show the power of great partnerships. That said, the relationships we’ve all built together will last, and I know we will have other great opportunities to work together.”

Originally scheduled for August 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the initial postponement of The Big Splash! to August 2022, which coincides with Hancher’s 50th anniversary season.

“We are disappointed to cancel this event,” said Gabriele Villarini, director of IIHR. “It brought together partners from different backgrounds, and, even with this cancellation, it certainly paved the way for future collaborations between engineering and the arts.”

The decision to cancel The Big Splash! was based on several factors, including the uncertainty and repercussions resulting from the pandemic. Some aspects of the planned event will now be included during Hancher’s 2022-2023 season. Details of that season will be announced in the summer of 2022.