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Rock Falls sesquicentennial plans coming together

Bulk of events planned for July 29 through Aug. 5

ROCK FALLS – Music, dancing, fireworks, a parade, and possibly an air show are just a few of the headlining events in the works for the city’s 150th birthday celebration.

While a party is likely to break out at various times throughout the year, the bulk of the jubilee activities are being planned for July 29 through Aug. 6.

“Things could definitely be added to the events schedule, but most of the bigger things will happen during that time frame,” City Clerk Eric Arduini said.

A committee of volunteers led by Mayor Bill Wescott and Arduini started meeting regularly March 14, and many of the initial ideas are coming closer to fruition. The group, which tends to be a little different in composition each session, gathered Tuesday to give progress reports.

While nothing is etched in stone, the celebration is to kick off July 29 just east of Seward’s Riverside Park with the opening of a time capsule from the city’s 125th birthday.

The church community will unite around a local history theme for its services on July 30.

“Each of the churches will celebrate their histories on that Sunday,” Arduini said.

Gene Jacoby and Whiteside County Airport Manager Mike Dowell have been hard at work trying to bring the air show together for one of the days.

“The planes will already be traveling through for an event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, but we might need to find some more money to bring in pilots because these are big aircraft,” Jacoby said.

The city’s tourism department contributed $20,000 for jubilee events, and some fundraising efforts are underway. Plans for a cookbook are in the works, and money from that venture would be used to defray costs.

“We’ll need at least 100 recipes, and we only have 30 or 40 now,” said Becky Wilkinson, who is leading the cooking project.

Recipes can be emailed to Wilkinson at, or dropped off in the city clerk’s office.

Reunion Homecoming Day is taking shape for Aug. 4. Five high school classes have confirmed plans to have reunions that day. Most of the events will be held at the RB&W District green space area, and it’s hoped that several bands will be playing at the new amphitheater.

The events conclude with a bang on Aug. 5. Uptown streets will be blocked off for a good old-fashioned street dance, complete with a stage and beer garden. Artisans will pay tribute to those who once churned their own butter and made their own brooms. There will be a parade, possibly at 11 a.m., and at dusk there will be fireworks.

A craft show is tentatively planned from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 5. It would likely be held in the parking lot near the Lovelight Tree. Organizer Melinda Jones is looking for more vendors. Email Jones at for an application or more information about the craft fair. Cost for vendors is $40 for a 10-by-10 space; no electricity is available.

For beard artists, Marsha Melchi is trying to organize a beard-growing contest. Local barbers would certify that all were clean-shaven on the same day.

Melchi said memories of the city’s last birthday celebration motivated her to join the committee.

“I grew up here, and my parents were involved in planning the last celebration,” Melchi said. “I remember dressing up for it as a kid and just having a lot of fun with my family.”

The group had something tangible to show for their work Tuesday – marketing materials, including placemats, letterhead, and thank-you cards, had just come back from the printer. The committee also received price quotes on polo shirts, T-shirts, and sweatshirts emblazoned with the jubilee logo. The logo could eventually appear on other gift items such as keychains and cups.


The Rock Falls Sesquicentennial Committee next meets at 6 p.m. Jan. 31 at in council chambers at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St. 

The agendas will be posted at and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.

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