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Rock River advocates to launch outdoor sports expo

Vendors, organizations invited to free event at Moonlight Bay

STERLING – It's no secret that Dave Druen loves the great outdoors. The Sterling businessman, owner of Dave's Outdoor World, has spent years reveling in the beauty of the Rock River and the Hennepin Canal, promoting their economic benefits and advocating for their care and upkeep.

Now he and fellow Rock River Trail Initiative council member Matthew Hilligoss are taking their passion for the local waterways to another level, by creating a free outdoor-themed event they hope will attract people from all over, and draw attention to the Sauk Valley's natural wonders.

Vendors regionwide are invited to participate in the inaugural Outdoor Sports Expo, to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 22 at Moonlight Bay Marina.

Admission will be free for vendors and the public, Druen said in an email.

He and Hilligoss "want to promote outdoor recreation and help to promote our outdoor recreational opportunities and resources we all have here in the local area," Druen wrote.

The event will offer goods, services, information and demonstrations related to bike and motor cycling, hiking, boating, gun and bow hunting, fishing, kayaking, camping, etc., and vendors in these and all related outdoor sports fields are welcome.

Also welcome are clubs and organizations that promote and support outdoor recreation.

Details still are being worked out, but already committed to attend, Druen said, are Gieson Motor Sports in Rock Falls, which will have four-wheelers on hand; Hennepin Marine, which is bringing pontoon, hunting boats and more; Personal Water Craft; the Illinois Paddling Council; Trails for Illinois; and the Rock River Trail Initiative.

He hopes to get confirmation soon from businesses and groups such as Sinnissippi Rod & Gun Club, Rockford Hover Craft, and Arrow Tv Bow hunters, and he also hopes many more will sign up for what he plans to be an annual event.

"I think this will be an exciting show like no other in the area," Druen said, adding that he "is committed to promoting the area every way that I can."

There also will be music, and the bar and restaurant at the marina will be open.

Visitors can make a day of it: The expo will end just as Venetian Night begins, up the road on the Rock River in Dixon.

The second annual Dixon Main Street event will feature European-themed food, a lighted boat parade, street performers and roaming musicians, artists and artisan vendors, a mask performance and workshop, fireworks, and an after party. Admission is free.

To sign up

For more information or to sign up for the inaugural Outdoor Sports Expo, to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 22 at Moonlight Bay Marina, 1552 Mound Hill Road, contact Dave Druen at 815-716-3366 or, or find Dave's Outdoor World on Facebook.

Admission is free to vendors and the public.

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