OREGON – It was a “rockin” good time in Oregon on June 17 as the community kicked off the inaugural Rockin’ River Fest.
Despite the inclement weather and an early shut down, festival organizers and attendees are deeming it a big success and looking forward to 2018.
“Unfortunately Mother nature didn’t cooperate too well for us, but those who were in attendance were having a fun time participating and watching the various events and that’s what it’s all about,” said Brandon Johnson, festival co-chair.
The festival kicked off with the Rock River Adventure Tri taking participants on a 3-mile run up the river and up the steps to Lowden Park, then winding back down the park to pick up their bike and navigate a 10 mile bike ride on the scenic back roads surrounding the Oregon area. Once that leg of the event was completed, participants jumped in canoes and paddled 5 miles to Castle Rock State Park.
“It was a rigorous and challenging event for the nearly 40 participants that completed the course,” said Aaron Sitze, event manager. “Feedback has been very positive so we look forward growing this event in 2018.”
Etnyre Team # 2 earned bragging rights as the 2017 “Tug Across the Rock” Champions. The Conover Coffees and Chocolates team earned runner-up honors. Pat O’Brien, CEO of Etynre has already put out a challenge to other local businesses to “take them on” in 2018!
The Game Spot area was a hit with kids of all ages.
“It was so much fun to see the looks on the kid’s faces when they won tokens and got to go to the prize store to redeem them for fun prizes like flashing tiaras, spinners, and stuffed animals,” said Marcy Haushahn, one of the many festival volunteers working in this area.
“The thing that made my day was the little girl struggling with the lawn bowling,” Carrie Head, festival secretary, added. “She was having difficulty getting her ball down the lane but all of a sudden it went into the next lane and she got a strike.”
David and Kenny Pitts from DeKalb took home first place and the $250 prize money in the Toss ‘Em Tourney Bags Tournament. Kris Rippey, Comanche, Iowa and Cory DeMay, Prophetstown placed second and Sean Toohey and Kyle Zoet from Winnebago came in third.
“Uniquely Oregon” Showcase exhibitors featured locally produced goods and services ranging from some amazing photography by Greg and Niki Hunt to soap made by the Oregon Soap Shoppe and unique Oregon signs made exclusively for the festival by E.D. Etnyre.
There were also plenty of local taste treats in the “Amazin’ Grazin’ Food Court hosted by local restaurants and caterers.
Participants enjoyed a blend of local and regional entertainment throughout the festival. The Rivers’ Edge Stage sponsored by Ukulele Station America featured a variety of local acts including the Rock River Strummers, Boot Scootin Seniors, and various other musicians. The Chill Zone Stage featured the music of regional bands “Love and Thunder” and Rockford’s “Dirt Road Rebelz.”
“The Dirt Road Rebelz band was just winding up their performance and Party Doctors was on site preparing to take the stage when the festival had to be shut down due to storms surrounding the area,” said Debbie Dickson, festival treasurer. “It was quite disappointing, but safety always comes first and when the fire chief says shut it down due to lightning, hail and high winds, that is exactly what you do.”
“Events like this could not happen without the support of our entire community and a core of great volunteers,” said Donna Mann, festival co-chair. “We can’t thank our sponsors and dedicated volunteers enough for helping us to make this happen. A special shout out to our presenting sponsor: Martin & Company for all of the behind the scenes support provided in helping prepare the festival site in readiness for this event as well as the financial contribution to help make this event a reality.
“A very special thank you to Harlan Holm, our facilities chair for all of the time and equipment he has contributed to this event,” she said. “We could not have made this happen without his insights and hard work.”
If you want to check out some of the highlights, visit www.rockinriverfest.net to view the video produced by NIU student, Renard Cheren.