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Planning for Port Party Picks Up

America's River Festival is Wooing Another Nationally Renowned Attraction

M.D. Kittle

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

January 12, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.]

Planning for the next installment of the city's riverfront bash is moving forward, with a mix of big-name acts and family activities on the celebration schedule, according to a lead organizer for America's River Festival 2006.

Steward Sandstrom, president and chief executive officer for the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, tells the Telegraph Herald the three-day party at the Port of Dubuque is set for June 9-11.

While this edition of the America's River Festival won't include a national fishing tournament like last year's Cabela's walleye championship, Sandstrom said organizers are close to inking a deal that would bring a nationally renowned attraction to the event. He declined to say just what that is, however.

"If this comes through, there will be national media attention on Dubuque," said Sandstrom, who also serves as president of the America's River Corp., the group charged with organizing the festival.

Organizers are looking to finalize a lineup of regional and national musical acts for the riverfront celebration. Topping the list of possible performers is 1970s rockers Styx, Sandstrom said. But the group would jam sans former frontman Dennis DeYoung, now pursuing a different creative direction.

That said, "I can pretty much guarantee there will be no 'Mr. Roboto,'" Sandstrom asserted, chuckling in reference to the Styx early '80s anthem, decrying modernity or raging hatred for robots.

Also on the short list of potential musical groups, according to Sandstrom - America, the Doobie Brothers and "some country folks."

The festival is expected to be jam-packed with music, with headliners and smaller acts each day. The Port also would host a variety of family activities, from food to inflatable rides, Sandstrom said.

Organizers decided to move the festival to the second weekend in June after some complained about the celebration's Memorial Day weekend placement last year. The positioning is believed to have been a factor in disappointing attendance figures.

"Given our ultimate goal to have a significant event that draws well regionally, we've decided there is too much going on for our local families on Memorial Day weekend," Sandstrom said. "And we're hopeful we have a better chance at better weather."

The 2005 version of the festival was hampered by cool, wet weather for much of the weekend.