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Rock Falls splashes into summer

ROCK FALLS – There was a lot more space between the vendors than usual at Summer Splash this weekend.

The event, which brings vendors and food trucks to RB&W Riverfront Park, was without its usual kids fair, and some of the events migrated online, but there were still booths and tables set up, and people who were checking out the wares kept socially distant.

"It's our local hometown event," Sterling native Stephanie Crowe said. "We just thought we'd walk around and see what people have to offer."

The vendors were able to get back out into the community after what for them has been a slow summer. Kevin Duncan from Erie sells Amish preserves and some fresh produce, and in any normal summer would be out at a different event every weekend.

"This has really been a slow year," Duncan said. "Hopefully it's going to break loose a little bit into the fall."

Friday was a bit slow at Summer Splash, but there was more traffic on Saturday, with people flocking to his black raspberry and strawberry rhubarb jams, he said.

This is his fourth Summer Splash; it's a good show, even with the spread-out nature of this year's event, he said.

"I think people get tired of walking a distance," Duncan said. "Before everyone was together, but now they might not want to walk all that far and they pass some of us up."

Duncan was next to Valerie Butcher's glassware booth. She also was offering a chance to sign up for a class on working with glass.

Summer Splash attendees also could buy woodwork designs from Mt. Carroll's H&T Woodworking and Laser Engraving, led by Dan Speaker and Chris Martin.

They did three summer events last year. This was their first this summer.

"Last year it was better, there were more people, but this year it's understandable," Martin said. "It's kind of filtering in. It's been successful."

Food vendors had to adjust to the changes with COVID-19 still ever-present. Derek Flannery was grilling up wild game, from alligator brats to buffalo burgers.

"Obviously health codes, FDA requirements and things like that still apply," Flannery said.

"The big thing is just being more cognizant of your handling; wearing a mask at all times, changing gloves regularly, if I grab my phone I've got to be cautious of that a little more."

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