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Big crowd boosts revenue

Board excited about 50th anniversary fest

Thousands of people packed the downtown Saturday night to hear the 1990s alternative rock band Spin Doctors, this year’s Petunia Festival headliners.
Thousands of people packed the downtown Saturday night to hear the 1990s alternative rock band Spin Doctors, this year’s Petunia Festival headliners.

DIXON – The 2013 Petunia Festival brought in enough revenue this year to make up for 4 years of losses.

In turn, that means good things for next year’s 50th anniversary edition, said Andrew Brockwell, Petunia Festival Board president.

With still more revenue to finalize, July’s Petunia Festival in Dixon generated between $50,000 and $60,000, Bollman said. The sum of the previous four years’ losses totaled between $50,000 and $60,000.

“Our mission isn’t to make money, but instead to put on as good of a festival as possible,” Brockwell said. “When we make over what we spend, however, we can invest more into the next year to do bigger events. We try to put on as many free events as we can.”

Extreme heat in 2011 led to poor attendance and caused the festival board to put together a tighter budget this past summer.

Milder temperatures this time around and the festival’s move from Page Park to Heritage Crossing were two of the biggest factors in the increased revenue, Brockwell said.

After the success of the Mumford & Sons concert in August 2012, the Petunia Festival Board moved the entertainment stage and the Taste of Sauk downtown. Portions of River Street and Hennepin Avenue were closed for the festival.

The Peoria Avenue bridge was closed Sunday for the parade and fireworks.

“The setup itself is going to be very similar [next year],” Brockwell said. “The stage setup really worked with having the sponsorship tent in the Beanblossom parking lot area. A lot of people liked the bridge being closed that Sunday for the fireworks. We’ll look more into closing the bridge Friday night up to the fireworks, but that’s something that’s up to the City Council.”

Saturday, July 6 events drew the largest crowds. About 5,000 people were in attendance to see the Spin Doctors, the featured entertainment. Also, Country Night and evening artists featuring Gina Venier and the Gentlemen and Dot Dot Dot drew very well, Brockwell said.

The new Brush, Broom and Bloom painting competition, sponsored by Dixon Main Street, was deemed a success and should return.

The carnival did better, too, he said. Carnival operators were worried breaking up the festival would have a negative impact, but families liked the separation. Additionally, admission into the carnival was free, meaning guardians didn’t have to pay to get in.

The Taste of Sauk drew the only complaints, Brockwell said. The festival board focused on attracting local food vendors this year as opposed to previous years when vendors from outside the community were invited.

“People told us, ‘We can get this food any time,’” Brockwell said. “They wanted us to bring back more of the outside vendors. We’ll be looking to do that next year.”

A separate committee is working on ideas for the festival’s 50th anniversary next summer. The group has met several times and has come up with 80 to 100 ideas. About 4 or 5 of the best ideas could be selected and introduced as new events.

The festival board is working on putting together a book to commemorate the anniversary, and some contests or events could be held in the days leading up to the festival.

“Everything is in the idea stages,” Brockwell said. “We like to challenge ourselves; we try to outdo ourselves each year. Maybe we can put on a bigger show entertainment-wise.”

The Petunia Festival Board is not funded by the city of Dixon and is a separate non-profit organization, depending on the revenue from the event and fundraisers leading up to it.

“A big thanks has to go out to the public and our sponsors,” Brockwell said. “They really did come out and support the new venue. The overwhelming amount of support and positive feedback from the public and sponsors is what led to the success.”

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