New location, new lineup at Beloit Riverfest
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BELOIT The 2012 Beloit Riverfest will celebrate 25 years of live music with a new venue behind city hall.
This year’s festival, which will be held June 27-July 1, will feature 13 bands, carnival rides, food and merchandise vendors.
One of the highlights will be the Riverfest Idol contest, which will be held all four days of the event. The winner will receive $2,012 and will have an opportunity to sing the national anthem at local sporting events such as Beloit Snappers, Janesville Jets and Rockford IceHogs games.
“(Riverfest Idol) has been going on for some time now,” said Duane Drevdahl, president of the Beloit Riverfest Board. “As far as the demographics, we’re pulling people in from quite a few miles away who are coming in to show their talents.”
The festival was moved to 217 Shirland Ave., behind the city hall building, instead of Riverside Park because of construction on the Henry Avenue Bridge.
“We were forced to change the location. With Brian Ramsey of parks and recreation, we looked at a lot of different options,” Drevdahl said. “One of the options that kept coming back was to still be by the river. With the river bend down by the post office and the new bus station, it worked out to be the best area. With it being close to the Illinois border, we sought out South Beloit to acquire the brown space that was on the opposite side of Shirland Avenue for parking access.”
Drevdahl said the Shirland Avenue location would allow for more parking as well as more space for carnival rides.
Stephanie West, vice president of the Beloit Riverfest Board, said the Shirland Avenue location also could help attract more people to the downtown businesses.
“There’s been no limitations because of the new site,” West said. “We’re hoping to push more traffic through the downtown area, to the businesses and the farmers market. We want to complement the area, not take away from it.”
Besides the location, several other changes have been made to the festival during the past few years. Drevdahl said because of budget concerns, the board has gone from attracting national acts to obtaining local performers.
“We’ve had to shift gears and come up with some local, semi-regional bands. Actually, that’s the heartbeat of Beloit,” Drevdahl said. “There’s a lot of good talent around here, and we’re showcasing them. I think that says a lot for our town, to bring our local talent to the forefront.”
Organizers also have offered free admission and parking during the past few years to help attract more people.
“We sat back and looked at where we were three years ago and did a little poll around town and asked people what they wanted, and they wanted a free festival,” Drevdahl said. “When things are tough, families can’t afford to pay for $15 tickets. If you have a family of four or five people, that’s going to cost you some money. So, we would rather let them keep their money in their pockets and spend it on other things like food, drinks, toys and rides that they want to have fun with.”
West said the board members and volunteers work many hours during the days of the event to help make sure everything is running smoothly,
“It’s long days,” West said. “We start at dawn and go well into midnight or better depending on the day of the week.
“It’s good to be a part of something that’s been a tradition in Beloit,” West said. “I’m glad to see that we’ve gotten through some tough times.”
If you go:
Wednesday (June 27)
5 p.m.-8 p.m., Riverfest Idol
8 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Wicked Lily
9:30 p.m.-11 p.m., Ronnie Nyles with Talulah Who
Thursday (June 28)
5 p.m.-8 p.m., Riverfest Idol
8 p.m.-9:30 p.m., The Buzz
9:30 p.m.-11 p.m., The Blacktop Kings
Friday (June 29)
5 p.m.-7 p.m., Riverfest Idol
7 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Category X
8:30 p.m.-10 p.m., UR Mom
10 p.m.-11:30 p.m., Dynamite Society
Saturday (June 30)
3 p.m.-7 p.m., Riverfest Idol
7 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Gypsy Holler
8:30 p.m.-10 p.m., The Penny Mae Dixon Band
10 p.m.-11 p.m., Jamie Campbell and the Redneck Romeos
Sunday (July 1)
3 p.m.-6 p.m., Riverfest Idol
6 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Oxymorons
7:30 p.m.-9 p.m., Dave Potter and the Alley Kings
9 p.m.-close, The Blue Olivers
•Gate opens 30 minutes before the first act. See www.beloitriverfest.com.