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Big changes for city’s big party

Music, food moving downtown; carnival admission free; Spin Doctors will headline

DIXON – The Petunia Festival is moving downtown – and it’s bringing the Spin Doctors with it.

For the 49th annual event, July 3-7, entertainment and food venues will be moved from their previous location in Page Park to the downtown area along the Heritage Crossing on the Riverfront, the festival board said.

The success of the Mumford & Sons concert setup last August motivated the change.

The festival will be held in an area on River Road between Peoria and Galena avenues and on Hennepin Avenue from First Street to River Road.

It also means people will not have to pay festival admission charges to attend the carnival, which will remain in front of the high school. Carnival admission will be free, and the only cost will be the rides.

The Peoria Avenue bridge will be closed after the parade Sunday until the fireworks. Sunday will be a free day, while children 12 and younger will be allowed in free all days.

“This will provide easy access between the downtown and the carnival area and will also create a new spot to watch fireworks,” Petunia Festival board members said in a news release.

People also will be able to carry alcohol in the designated festival area. Wristbands will be used to designate festivalgoers older than 21.

“We will have staff walking around to make sure all the rules are being followed,” said Theresa Sholders, president of the Petunia Festival board.

An entertainment stage will be set up near the Dixon Tourism building and the Spin Doctors will headline 5 days of entertainment.

Known for 1990s radio hits “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes,” the Spin Doctors sold more than 5 million albums in 1993.

They will perform Saturday, July 6.

Only one stage will be set up this year, another change from the past.

Other headliners include country band Back Country Roads, a Battle for the Saddle winner in Nashville; blues band Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo, a Grammy nominee for Blues Album of the Year in 2011; Dot Dot Dot, a finalist in Fox’s “The Next Great American Band”; and South of Disorder a Jimmy Buffett tribute band.

A new family event will be the Brush, Bloom and Boom painting competition for all ages on Thursday, July 4. The event will use First Street as a canvas for willing artists to help decorate downtown for the festival. Artists will paint 4-by-4-foot squares.

An effort also is being made to bring more local food vendors to the Taste Trail. There will be three food courts stretched across River Road.

The theme of the annual parade, on Sunday, July 7, will be “Looking fine for 49.”

Many other events are returning to the festival, including the 14th annual Reagan 5K run, the men’s garden club pancake breakfast, the bags tournament, the Elks Lodge poker tournament, the Dixon Municipal Band concert on the Old Lee County Courthouse lawn, the community church service, the Elks fishing derby, the art show and bingo.

Go to for the full schedule.

Music schedule

Here is the schedule for entertainment at the 49th annual Petunia Festival:

Wednesday, July 3 "Country concert"

6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Back Country Roads

9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.: Brushfire, won the Battle for the Saddle in Nashville

Thursday, July 4

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Woodlawn Academy bands

2 p.m.-6 p.m.: Burn N' Bush and Tristian Bushman

6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Robbie LeBlanc & the Real Live Show

9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.: Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo, received Grammy nomination for Blues Album of the Year in 2011

Friday, July 5

6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Gina Venier and the Gentlemen

9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.: Dot Dot Dot, finalists on Fox's "The Next Great American Band"

Saturday, July 6

Noon-2:30 p.m.: Acoustic Circus

3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Trippin Molly

6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Noyz Boyz

9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.: Spin Doctors, triple-platinum album seller

Sunday, July 7

3 p.m.-5 p.m.: Lyle Grobe and the Rhythm Ramblers

6 p.m.-9 p.m.: South of Disorder, Jimmy Buffett cover band

Win a Harley-Davidson

Only 3,500 tickets will be sold for a raffle of a 2013 Harley-Davidson 110th anniversary special limited edition Super Glide Customer, or $10,000.

Ticket are $20 each, $50 for 3 or $100 for 7. The drawing will take place July 7 at the main stage around 8 p.m., but you don't need to be present to win. Proceeds benefit next year's festival.

Tickets or more information are available at the Dixon Main Street office, 115 S. Hennepin Ave., at or at 877-305-4871.

To help

The Dixon Petunia Festival is a nonprofit group with an all-volunteer board that works closely with Dixon Main Street to organize the festival. Between 400 and 600 volunteers give at least an hour of their time to make the festival happen. The festival is sponsored by about 40 major contributors.

To volunteer, go to or call 815-284-3361.

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