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Tweaking Reagan Trail Days festival

New this year: Cowboy to entertain, gala, wine-tasting combo, music fest debuts

DIXON – The ever-popular, family-friendly Reagan Trails Days returns next week to Dixon, with a few changes and modifications from years past.

For starters, a new event will kick off the 6-day festival: The Cowboy Randy Erwin Show features trick roping, yodeling, and cowboy folklore, music, and history. It begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the Riverfront. Admission is free.

From 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, there will be a free ice cream social with music by Lowell Harp and Friends, also at the Riverfront.

Thursday is the Community Picnic at Lowell Park from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring a cookout for $3 for ages 19 and older, and free for the kids. There also will be free pontoon boat rides, face-painting, music by singer Drew Dawson of Sterling, and other activities.

On Friday, there’s the Dixon Main Street Musical free Friday concert, with music by Rowan Dierksen at noon on the Riverfront.

Another change from years past: The annual Ronald Reagan Gala in the Park and the annual wine tasting-reception will be held together from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, 816 S. Hennepin Ave.

There will be music by Chameleon and Jimmy Jack Whitaker, the meal will be provided by Basil Tree Ristorante, and wine tastings with wine provided by Crystal Cork, along with the Dixon Welcome Center’s Petunia Wine.

The gala’s annual awards ceremony, which celebrates Dixonites who have gone on to do great things just as Ronald Reagan did, this year honors former Lee County sheriff and now state Sen. Tim Bivins, author Courtney Fassler Walsh, and Dr. Peter Nichols, a cancer researcher and professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Tickets are $35 and include a commemorative wine glass and two wine tasting tickets. They are available at and at the Boyhood Home Visitor’s Center, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Saturday, it’s Kid’s Day at the Reagan Home, with free stories and activities for the kids from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and two-for-$5 tours of the home for adults from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Alzheimer’s Association annual duck race on the Rock River begins at 10 a.m. Sponsor a duck for $5; tickets are available at the Alzheimer’s Association, 93 S. Hennepin Ave. or at 815-285-1100.

It’s also the monthly Second Saturdays Art Happenings, which start at 6 p.m. downtown. Go to for a complete list of events.

Most notable, though, is the new music and food festival coming to the downtown.

The Beanblossom Music Festival will run from 1 to 5 p.m. in the parking lot at 106 W. River St., and will feature Chicago soul musicians JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound and local favorites Gina Venier & the Gentlemen and Nate Gordon, both of Dixon.

Advance tickets are $5 at Venier’s Jewelry and at 815-288-2308.

The festival ends Sunday with a Dixon Municipal Band concert at 2 p.m. at the Page Park bandshell. This year’s program will feature “Music for the Presidents.” Among the selections: Sousa’s “George Washington Bicentennial March”; “Elegy for a Young American,” Ronald Lo Presti’s tribute to JFK; “Lincoln Portrait” by Aaron Copland and “Reagan of Illinois Part 1,” commissioned by the city and composed by David Holding.

Admission is free.

Go to or call 815-288-2308 for a complete schedule and more information.

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