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Town bracing for big crowd at festival

50/50 raffle likely to top 2012 success

AMBOY – Depot Days, the annual celebration of the city’s railroad heritage, will kick into full swing today and end Sunday with its famously ginormous 50/50 raffle.

Last year’s winner took home $46,000 and change, and organizers say sales this year are far outpacing last year’s.

The fun starts tonight at 5, when food stands open, followed by the carnival at 6 p.m.; all rides are $2. The highlight of the evening will be the Miss Amboy and Little Mister and Little Miss Amboy pageants at 7 p.m. on the main stage.

Friday is packed with action. There will be communitywide garage sales from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., a downtown craft fair from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a free concert by Coupe DeVille at 7 p.m. on the main stage. The carnival is open from 6 to 10 p.m., with $20 wristbands, and the beer garden is open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The garage sales and craft fair continue Saturday. The Amboy Farm Tractor and Rat Rods show runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sensient Flavors parking lot on Main Street. There’s a petting zoo from 9 a.m. to noon downtown, the beer garden opens at 11 a.m. and the carnival at noon, with $20 armbands from noon to 3 p.m. The parade begins at 3 p.m. at Amboy City Park.

Eileen Quest sings at 1 p.m., and Back Country Roads plays at 7 p.m., both on the main stage, while Sould Out plays the beer garden, starting at 9 p.m.

The garage sales and craft show wrap up Sunday. The carnival runs from noon to 4 p.m.; $20 wristbands are available.

The highlight of Depot Days, though, is always the Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show, which runs from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. downtown. It’s one of the largest in Illinois, often attracting more than 450 vehicles.

The winner of the 50/50 drawing is announced at 3 after the car show; you need not be present to win. Last year’s winner took home $46,196.

Go to or find the event on Facebook for more information and a complete schedule of events.

50/50 fever running high and hot

The raffle has its own Facebook page, Amboy Depot Days 50/50 Drawing.

The most recent post:

"Here is the morning update for the 50/50 drawing. As of Wednesday the 21st we have deposited $15,000.00 ! As it stands right now, we are over DOUBLE what we sold last year and two sales days ahead of last year! It's hard to convey the excitement that is with this year's 50/50 drawing, but its getting crazy! Our sales locations are selling like never before, so don't delay, get some tickets early and get some more this weekend! THANK YOU!!!"

Depot Days' share supports the Depot Museum, which will be open during the festival, and other community projects.

Then there's the "lucky loser" drawing, also known as second place. After the big winner is picked, organizers draw one more ticket worth $500. The winner must be present for this one.

Tickets are $1, or 6 for $5, and are available at Amboy City Hall, the Depot Museum, Mort's Tap, and Napa Amboy; at the Countryside Tap in Sublette; at the Shamrock Pub in Dixon; and at the festival.

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