Music fest a first for Riverside Park

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Dennis Hines | August 14, 2013

JANESVILLE — The scenery of Riverside Park will serve as a backdrop for an upcoming afternoon of music and entertainment.

The first-ever Riverside Music Festival is set for Sunday, Aug. 18, at the park's north pavilion, 2200 Parkside Drive in Janesville. The event is being organized by Friends of Riverside Park and the Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra.

The event will kick off at 11 a.m. with a shuffleboard tournament, followed by the Janesville Noon Lions Club chicken barbecue at noon. At 1 p.m., a pickle ball tournament will start.

The music will begin at 2 p.m., with the Go Deans Docs Rock band, Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra and the University of Wisconsin-Rock County Jazz Ensemble scheduled in succession.

Festival-goers will find musical variety, said Gregory Roy, a member of the Friends of Riverside and event coordinator for the orchestra.

“(The music) is going to appeal to a broad segment. You've got a rock 'n' roll band, the Go Deans, then you're going to have some classical music with the Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra,” Roy said. “But even so, we don't play all heavy classical. We play movie themes like from 'Harry Potter,' the theme from 'James Bond' or the theme for 'Star Wars.' Then, there's going to be a jazz ensemble from the University of Wisconsin, so we're appealing to a whole broad spectrum of people.”

The festival will feature several children's activities, including clowns, face painting, balloons and a bounce house. The park wading pool will be open for swimming.

There also will be a beer and wine garden for adults.

“The kids will be preoccupied, which is exactly what the parents want, because the parents will be able to relax and enjoy the music,” Roy said. “This is for the families. The clowns will keep (the children) busy. They'll have a great time.

“I don't care if there's kids screaming around here. That's what it's all about. That's what they're here for, to enjoy themselves.”

Ice cream, kettle corn, cookies and lemonade will be available for purchase, in addition to the Lions Club barbecue chicken lunch featuring chicken, hot dogs and soda.

“There will be chicken with our special recipe,” said Blaine Vance, a Janesville Noon Lions Club member. “Nobody does a chicken barbecue here in Janesville, so we've had a lot more people approach our club to help benefit their causes and their needs. We only have one major fundraiser, and that's our annual chicken roast, so this is something we've been discussing for a few years ...

“When the Friends of Riverside and Turtle Creek Orchestra approached us about doing food, it was just a perfect fit,” Vance said.

There is no cost to attend the festival, but donations will be accepted for Friends of Riverside and for Project 16:49, which helps homeless teens in Rock County.

“With it being just before the school year, that's going to tug at some people to dig deeper into their wallets to help Project 16:49. It's a great way to raise funds for that organization,” Roy said. “Some of their representatives will be here to help out and help oversee the event.”

The Friends of Riverside and Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra have been working on the event for about a year. Roy said he hopes the music festival will become an annual event.

“The city has been behind us since day one,” Roy said. “Park and leisure services have coordinated with Friends of Riverside. They have been great.”

Vance said he is pleased that the Janesville Noon Lions Club is involved with the festival.

“We're honored to be asked. It's exposure for our club. Any successful club has to have a lot of involvement in the community,” Vance said. “They have to be active and always searching for ways to benefit the community. That just attracts new members.”

Pam Van Brocklin, member of Friends of Riverside, said Riverside Park is an ideal location for a music festival.

“This is the perfect place for a concert, for music and for a gathering,” Van Brocklin said. “You're in the city, but when you look around (the park), you wouldn't know it. It's just remarkable. That's what's so lovely about it.”

The Friends of Riverside group has been involved in several improvement projects at the park, including renovating the pavilions, reroofing the north pavilion and resurfacing the tennis courts. New boat docks recently were installed.

Van Brocklin said more projects are in the works.

“It's just putting the basics back. I know there's so much more that we want to do,” she said. “When we look back at those big projects that we did accomplish, it's a good feeling and it makes us more excited about what's going to happen in the future.

“These (pavilions) were important to us. It was really important to us that they were saved. They have such character ... ”

Roy said he would like to see a band shell installed at the park in the future.

“There would be some protection for the instruments. People could sit along the river, and it would be great,” Roy said. “It would also have a portable stage, so you could get live outdoor theater. That's another opportunity. That would be the long-term outlook.”

Roy said he has noticed that a lot of children use the park, but he would like to see more golfers from Riverside Golf Course stop by and visit.

“A lot of golfers don't come down here,” Roy said. “They don't realize what a treasure it is.”




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