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Dateline Dixon: City seeing potential in Riverfront

DIXON – Somebody from outside Dixon asked me recently, “How did Dixon manage to land Mumford & Sons?”

Not reporting here at the time, I didn’t know the answer, other than to say Dixon is a nice community for its size.

After experiencing my first Petunia Festival this past week, I can see one of the reasons it landed the gig.

The Heritage Crossing and riverfront development, its proximity and accessibility to Page Park, make Dixon an ideal setting for a festival.

Visitors can take part in the activities of the festival and enjoy the beauty of the Rock River at the same time.

After the success of the Mumford & Sons 2-day festival last summer, the Petunia Festival board decided to move its Taste Trail and entertainment from Page Park to Heritage Crossing on River Street.

As fellow Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini discovered, visitors enjoyed the move.

For instance, Gary and Shirley Steder said it was a nicer venue, and called the Riverfront “beautiful.”

My wife Julie and I liked that we could take a walk and watch the pelicans by the dam for a short escape, and return to the festival.

Several city officials, such as Sterling City Manager Scott Shumard and Rochelle City Manager David Plyman, complimented the city and cite the riverfront as a valuable asset.

And when I talked to Mayor Jim Burke on Monday, he said the feedback he’s received regarding the move has been positive.

Burke said someone told him, “Dixon should have something like this every weekend.”

While that may not be plausible, Burke acknowledged the festival has given birth to some ideas for future events along the Riverfront, such as another concert.

Diane Nicholson, Lee County Tourism Council director, said some naysayers of the Riverfront visited the location for the first time this past weekend, and have since changed their mind about the development.

The more people open up their mind and see the Riverfront as an asset, the more potential can be unlocked.

Maybe this Fourth of July weekend was just a continuation of many more things to come.

Stop by

Derek Barichello's “office hours” will be from 1 to 2 p.m. today at Books on First, 202 W. First St. Feel free to stop to ask questions, suggest story ideas, or just chat.

He also can be reached at or 800-798-4085, ext. 526.

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