DIXON – Inspired by the success of the Mumford & Sons setup last summer, the downtown will host its first Petunia Festival.
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.
That means River Road will be closed from Peoria Avenue to Galena Avenue, and Hennepin Avenue will be closed from River Road to First Street.
On July 4, First Street will be closed from Peoria to Galena avenues. Also, the Peoria Avenue bridge will be closed July 6 from the time of the parade until the conclusion of the fireworks.
Mayor Jim Burke said the changes will be a positive for festivalgoers.
“The festival will move to streets with better lighting and better parking,” Burke said. “We had no problems during the [Mumford & Sons concert] last summer; hopefully, we repeat that.”
People also will be able to carry alcohol in the designated festival area. Wristbands will be used to designate those older than 21.
Taverns within the designated area are permitted to sell alcohol outside of their business, but so far none have requested to do so, Burke said. Patrons will be allowed to buy alcohol within any of the taverns and carry it in the designated area, as long as it’s not in a glass container.
Petunia Festival staff will be walking around to make sure the rules are being followed, board member Theresa Sholders said.
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, the only cost will be the rides.
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.
An entertainment stage will be set up near the Dixon Tourism building and the Spin Doctors will headline 5 days of entertainment. Only one stage will be set up.
The theme of the annual parade, on July 7, will be “Looking fine for 49.”
Many other events are returning to the festival, including the 14th annual Reagan 5K run, the garden club pancake breakfast, the bags tournament, the Elks Lodge poker tournament, the Dixon Municipal Band Fourth of July concert on the Old Lee County Courthouse lawn, the community church service, the Elks fishing derby, the Nuts About Art show and sale, and bingo.
To buy tickets
Go to the Dixon Chamber of Commerce, 101 W. Second St., No. 301, or petuniafestival.org to buy carnival wristbands or tickets to the entertainment area downtown. Admission to carnival grounds is free.
Entry tickets for the festival grounds music and entertainment area are available for $12, good for July 3-6. Sunday is free family day.
Otherwise, daily admission is $5. Children 12 and younger are admitted free every day.
Petuniafestival.org has all the details, including a full schedule of events.
Look inside Friday's edition for the annual pull-out guide to the Petunia Festival.