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Petunia Festival to celebrate 50th anniversary

Rusted Root and Parmalee among the 18 musical performances

DIXON – It snowed Wednesday, but for about 30 minutes in the afternoon in a conference room on the second floor of Town Square Center, the focus was on the summer.

The lineup and other details about the 50th annual Petunia Festival were revealed during a press conference. Among the musical acts are Rusted Root, Parmalee and Apache Relay, who previously performed in Dixon during the Mumford & Sons show in 2012.

It was a big decision to move the location last year, accodring to Dave Johnson, the festival’s vice president of operations, and something that made the festival organizers nervous.

“And that was something we didn’t take lightly, and something we were all sort of eagerly anticipating how well it would be received,” he said. “And it was a phenomenal success. All we heard last year was how great the people liked it down there and what a nice venue it was.”

The festival will be Wednesday through Sunday, July 2-6. New additions to this year’s event include an exhibit looking back at the 50 years of the festival; a Bingo Kick Off event on May 5, 50 days before the start, and a Dixon-style luau on the riverfront.

The Taste at the Petunia Festival will also be kept at the riverfront and will have 10 to 12 vendors, the festival’s vice president of marketing, Theresa Sholders said.

The Petunia Festival will again partner with Dixon Main Street and use its Hennepin Avenue office as a base of operations leading up to the festval, Johnson said.

The carnival will be kept at the high school. Other family events include children’s games on the Old Lee County Courthouse property on Friday, July 4, and fireworks along the riverfront Sunday, July 6.

There will be no admission to the festival area on both family days.

The Petunia Festival parade will be held Sunday, July 6, with the theme 50 Years of Petunia Magic. The parade route will be changed “slightly,” festival organizers said, because of the downtown streetscape project.

A second stage near the Rock River will be added this year, and the music and the Taste at the Petunia Festival will remain on the riverfront, Johnson said.

The festival’s entertainment committee wanted to take advantage of the amphitheater area along the riverfront, said Main Street Executive Director Josh Albrecht – also a festival board member. So a second stage will be added to keep musical performances constant.

“One of the things we wanted to get away from was dead air, if you will, when acts are changing over on the main stage,” he said. “This will provide sort of a continuous stream of entertainment through out the night.”

Rusted Root, a popular band from the 1990s best known for the song “Send Me On My Way,” will perform on the main stage on the festival’s first day. Old Shoe, a Chicago-based band, will also perform on Day 1.

Day 2 will be headlined by Parmalee, who were semifinalists for the Academy of Country Music’s 2014 New Artist of the Year award. Other performers on the Petunia Festival’s “country night” include Olivia Dvorak and Brushville.

The Wood Brothers will headline Day 4 – Saturday, July 5 – the same day that will see performances by Apache Relay and Sun Stereo, among others. 

“We’re definitely excited,” Albrecht said. “Every single night is going to be filled with these national acts that are coming through. I think people are going to be really, really surprised at the level of entertainment we have this year.”

2014 Petunia Festival lineup

Wednesday, July 2

6:30 p.m. Old Show on the main stage

9:30 p.m. Rusted Root on the main stage

Thursday, July 3

5 p.m. Olivia Dvorak on the river stage

7 p.m. Brushville on the main stage

9 p.m. Olivia Dvorak on the river stage

10 p.m. Parmalee on the main stage

Friday, July 4

12 p.m. Robbie LeBlanc and the Real Live Show on the main stage

3 p.m. Tristan Bushman on the main stage

4:30 p.m. Burn N' Bush on the main stage

6:30 p.m. Catfish Dogs on the river stage

7:30 p.m. Gina Venier & the Gentlemen on the main stage

9 p.m. Catfish Dogs on the river stage

10 p.m. Miles Nielsen & the Rusted Hearts on the main stage

Saturday, July 5

12 p.m. Acoustic Circus on the river stage

3 p.m. Sun Stereo on the main stage

6 p.m. Back Porch Blues Brothers on the river stage

7:30 p.m. Apache Relay on the main stage

9 p.m. Back Porch Blues Brothers on the river stage

10 p.m. The Wood Brothers on the main stage

Sunday, July 6

3 p.m. Lyle Grobe on the main stage

6 p.m. Rosbrook Studio Jam on the main stage

– Times are subject to change

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