Gearing up for Heritage Fest

ROCHELLE – The City of Rochelle is gearing up for its 22nd annual Lincoln Highway Heritage Festival.
The festival will take place from Aug. 16-18 in the downtown area of Rochelle and will feature attractions for people of all ages. Some of the activities include live bands, carnival rides, a kid’s zone, a car show, a beer garden and a parade on Sunday with many local businesses and organizations participating.
“The parade is at 1 p.m. on Sunday and it is getting bigger every day, I get e-mails about participating and then I send them to our parade coordinator,” said Laura Thomas, marketing coordinator for the festival.
Unlimited ride wristbands for the whole weekend can be purchased before the event for $50, $60 at the event, or tickets can be purchased individually or by the sheet. Unlimited ride single day bands can also be purchased for Friday or Sunday for $25 or $30 for Saturday. Each ride costs between two and five tickets, so organizers recommend purchasing a wristband to save money. Wristbands can be purchased at one of the following locations: Ray’s New and Used Merchandise, Rochelle City Hall, RMU, Colonial Flowers or Quinn’s Jewelry.
Along with all of the other activities, new this year is an open mic that will be taking place on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on the main stage. Time slots for open mic are 15 minutes each and are first-come first-serve. People are just asked to bring their own music and equipment if they plan on performing. The 50/50 raffle tickets will be sold throughout the weekend as well, with the final drawing on Sunday at 6 p.m. Donations to the raffle will be accepted up until Friday.
Without all of the many sponsors, this event could not have happened.
“We appreciate all of the help, we wouldn’t be able to do this without our sponsors. Sponsors are a very, very big deal here,” explained Thomas.
When the event first started 22 years ago, it was much smaller with only three rides and no parade. The idea formed after a few years had gone by without hosting any events for the community then at one of the downtown meetings they started talking about having a festival and decided to name it after Lincoln Highway because that is the road everything was located on.
Since then it has continued to grow into somewhat of a tradition the community looks forward to each year.
“This is a social time, a fun time, a lot of people who have left come home for their reunions. It is like a reminiscing and I think people enjoy the atmosphere of the whole thing, pulling the community together,” added Naomi Baldwin, former president of the committee.
While people have come and gone and new people have stepped in to take on the hard work of putting this together for the community. Looking back on her 13 years as president and her time as parade marshal, Baldwin only has fond memories.
“It was a neat thing when I look back on it, when you see how it has continued. It is a great group of guys and girls that are running it now too,” said Baldwin
While the event has grown throughout the years, the number of members on the committee has done the opposite. The committee is asking for new volunteers, all they have to do to join is attend a meeting.
“Seven years ago, when I started there were 22 members, now we are down to only 12,” explained Pete Agnos, vice president of the committee.
Meetings usually take place on Monday at Hickory Grove either in the VIP or Baldwin room. Any information the community would like to know along with upcoming meetings will be posted to the Lincoln Highway Heritage Festival Facebook page, or the website at


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