Music festival planned for Janesville's Riverside Park

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Marcia Nelesen
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

 JANESVILLE—The Friends of Riverside Park have held gatherings in Riverside Park before, but they hope the music festival Sunday, Aug. 18, will be different.

The free Riverside Music Festival will feature local bands, food, drink—including beer and wine—and a shuffleboard tournament.

The friends are sponsoring the event to boost the park's profile and to raise money.

But they are also testing the waters in hopes they can offer monthly events modeled after Music at Harry's Place, a series of Friday-evening summer concerts in Beloit's Riverside Park.

And they want adults to be able to drink beer or wine, just like at Harry's Place, without having to stay inside a cordoned-off area.

Last year, the Friends of Riverside Park hosted a golf outing as a fundraiser, said Sandy Hendricks, a friends volunteer. The group wanted something different this year to take advantage of the lovely setting on the navigable Rock River.

The YWCA will help run the shuffleboard tournament, and the Noon Lions Club is selling grilled chicken.

The event will be held at the north end of the park, and parking will be available along the river and by the baseball diamond. A tractor and wagon will transport people who park farther away.

Handicapped parking will be available.

The festival will mark the first time the park's concession stand has been open in possibly two decades, Hendricks said.

The group has remodeled the 1920s building and given it a good cleaning, and Hendricks still marvels at the condition of its brick and wood.

To stage the event, the friends received a grant from the Community Foundation and also will use public donations.

If the event is successful, some money will go to the three bands. But first, the group had to pay $660 for a one-day liability permit and additional money for advertising. It also paid the city to rent its tents, although other fees, such as the pavilion fee, are being waived because all money raised goes back into the park.

The group opted to offer beer and wine for sale because it adds to the social climate, Hendricks said.

“It's a venue where you want to go someplace and relax, listen to music and have a beer or wine,” she said. “To be honest, it will bring more people out.”

The group plans to look for community and corporate sponsors next year to host more events.

In Beloit, Beloit 2020 and the Diane Hendricks family adopted Riverside Park, where Music at Harry's Place takes place. Each event costs the friends group there about $5,000, mostly donated by corporate sponsors.

“That's the kind of support we would need to continue this,” Hendricks said.

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