Despite scorching temperatures, about 30,000 people still walked through the gates of the Maha Music Festival this year for its two-day run. Fifteen different acts performed on the two stages in Stinson Park throughout Friday and Saturday, July 28th and 29th as the festival marked its 15th year. 

This was also its last at Stinson Park in Aksarben. Next year Maha returns to the Heartland of America Park on Omaha’s riverfront, which is slated to open later this summer.

The festival featured local acts like rapper Hakim, the hardcore band BIB as well as synth-pop heroes Icky Blossoms who took the stage together for the first time in years. As the sun set, fans cheered on national acts like The Beths, Alvvays, Turnstile, Peach Pit and Big Thief as they took the Union Pacific main stage. 

Near the back of the park, festival goers ambled through booths from 19 different community organizations, or headed to a silent disco to don headphones and dance with friends. Benson First Friday also made its return to the festival featuring art and performances as fans walked through the main gates.

Omaha Girls Rock made its 10th return to the festival, featuring two bands from its recent summer camp.

“Ethan, you’re a dirtbag,” sang the Instrumenting Earthworms in their 15-minute timeslot. The band decried the archetype of a toxic friend, advising the audience to drop the “Ethan” in their own life.

“It happens to a lot of people,” said Lucy Adkins, a 15-year old student at Westside High School who performed with the band. “Don’t be afraid to drop someone who’s super toxic. At the end of the day, it’s better to have that weight lifted off of you.”

For OGR, music education has always been a way for girls to find their voices. But, Halley Taylor, Executive Director of OGR, said the organization’s mission feels more important this year.

“It feels like a dire message right now, ” said Taylor. “We have representatives telling our youth and community how they don’t belong, we want to continue to affirm that we absolutely do.”

About 800 volunteers helped set up and run the nonprofit music festival, which itself leans toward inspiring action as much as providing music.

Community Village

Planned Parenthood hosted a booth where attendees could talk about abortion access. The Nebraska Legislature recently passed a law restricting abortion to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“Even before the new prohibitions on abortion, we knew those rights were under threat,” said Chris Cole, Senior Manager of Education for Planned Parenthood North Central States. “One thing that’s changed is that more folks are approaching us because now they know too.” 

Nearby, representatives from Nebraska Appleseed gathered signatures for a petition drive to get paid sick leave for Nebraskans on the 2024 Ballot. 

“All Nebraskans deserve affordable healthcare,” said Lindsay Limbach, Nebraska Appleseed’s organizing director. “Many businesses and organizations don’t provide that to them. Nebraskans deserve paid health leave for themselves and their families.”

The weather provided challenges over the weekend with temperatures nearing 100 degrees on Friday before a 6 p.m. downpour caused about an hour delay. Once the festival resumed, the sun was setting and the rain had cooled the temperature. 


On Saturday, temperatures sank to 85 degrees. Throughout the festival First National Bank of Omaha provided mobile water-filling stations while Metro Community College hosted a cooling tent. The Millwork Arts Lounge provided the attendees and volunteers with stand-up comedy and air conditioning.

This year the festival did not feature any food trucks, however. Organizers wanted to encourage people to patronize local restaurants in Aksarben Village as a farewell to the festival’s longtime home. For attendees, Maha’s imminent move back to the Omaha riverfront after 13 years in Aksarben, where it began in 2009, was a point of enthusiasm. 

“I feel like it’s exciting to see what it’s going to be like in a new space,” Taylor said. “I hope more of Omaha gets to see Maha and OGR as part of Maha.”

Maha Co-Executive Director Rachel Grace said that the greater capacity and three stages offered by the Heartland of America Park will allow the festival to double the size of its community village and host more local musical acts. 

“If you have more space, you can do more things,” Grace said. “It will give us the room to grow and having the aesthetic of the skyscrapers in the background will be really cool.”


Maha on Film

Photos by Brock Stillmunks

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