Two children rode in a colorful car while visiting the 2024 OSD Festival in Rockton two weeks ago.

Settlers Park welcomed mega sized crowds to take in four days of fun from June 13-16.

Event organizers were joined by an all volunteer committee.

The Rockton Lions Club works closely with the Village of Rockton, Rockton Fire Protection District, Rockton Village Public Works Department and Rockton Police Department.

Numerous volunteers come on the scene to help with set up, ticket sales, working in the beer tent, or clean up on the grounds.

Skinner’s Amusements returned with rides catering to every age and varied speeds.

Completing the Midway were games and activities covering a water blaster, balloon pop, Gator Grab, a photo booth, E-Claw machines, Kristi’s Hermit Crabs, Lucky Duck, basketball games, Running Water, bass fishing, and Skee Ball.

Food choices included everything from Chinese fare to burgers, pizza, ice cream and specialty meals.

Vendors offered OSD apparel, hats, and other items catering to different ages and tastes.

Go Army representatives greeted the public, provided information and demonstrated different types of weight lifting, allowing booth visitors to give lifting a try.

Action started on Thursday at the American Legion banquet hall with a highly successful blood drive.

Rockton Lions John Schamell welcomed 137 donors who together saved 390 lives. Each received a festival pass and were also entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $500 Visa gift card.

As an added bonus the Lions of Illinois Foundation gave free screenings during the blood drive.

Carnival Chair, Dan Garlow invited children with special needs and their families from local school districts to take a spin on specifically chosen rides, creating fun and smiles for them on Friday night.

Long lines of fans waited hours to enter the concert area on different nights, many held signs, some had song lyrics written along with a full message.

Headliners on the Bryden Country stage was performer Taylor Austin Dye who opened for Chase Matthew on Thursday night. Preston James set the stage before Nate Smith on Friday. Saturday night brought Austin Williams and Warren Zeiders into the spotlight.

Logan Crosby warmed up the crowd prior to Parmalee rounding out Sunday night’s entertainment.

Nate Smith invited then seven-year-old Henry Combs of Machesney Park to the stage. Henry joined in singing, “World on Fire.”

Combs said, “This was the best concert ever!”

Austin Williams generously donated one hundred percent of the proceeds from his merchandise sales back to the Rockton Lions Club.

Different styles and genres of music were heard in the Apex General Contracting beer tent. Performances by Lola Blu Band, Blind Date, Dirt Road Rebelz, Rollin Whiskey, Carson Hall, and Hanks Neighbors captured great attention.

The weather was perfect every day with the exception of a short time on Sunday afternoon. Extreme winds rolled in followed by a brief rainstorm, causing all festival goers, and everyone to evacuate the grounds.

The SMTD shuttle bus safely transported everyone  to Hononegah Community High School where School Resource Officer Emily Harrison let them in. Thanks to the quick thinking of all authorities and SMTD Executive Director Sharon Hecox everyone remained safe before the festival resumed within a half an hour, with weather clearing for a beautiful night.

Hecox reflects, “It is always nice to see young and old come together to enjoy boot stomping, at the family friendly Old Settlers Days! This year we saw lots of happy and excited faces both coming and going on the SMTD shuttle. A huge Yee-ha to the Lions Club for OSD 24!”

Profits of the OSD festival will be given back to the community through various donations. Organizations assisted by the Rockton Lions Club include but are not limited to: Carrie Lynn Center, Boy Scout Troop#619, Girl Scouts, and Talcott Library.

Each day of the festival the Rockton Lions Club presented a check to a different community organization. They gave a $10,000 donation to the Rockton Police Department, $5,000 to the Leader Dog program, $10,000 to the Center for Sight and Hearing plus $10,500 to the Old Stone Church Food Pantry.

As always, Rockton Lions collect old eyeglasses. June 1 was recognized as Helen Keller Day by Lions International.

The Rockton Lions Club Old Settlers Days festival draws thousands of people into Rockton every year. In 2018 the Rockton Lions Club was presented with a RAMI- Rockford Area Music Industry Award for the OSD festival.

High level sponsors were able to enter the Lions Club VIP tent to enjoy food, beverage choices and ideal seating for concerts.

New this year was an opportunity for anyone who had festival passes were able to get into the races at the Blackhawk Classics event at Blackhawk Raceway.

Volunteer Cory Magnus returned from Texas to help out. “It is impressive -a wonderful group of volunteers doing what they do, “Magnus said.

Volunteer and Rockton American Legion Auxiliary President Nicole Walker said, “There were massive crowds on Saturday, but everyone was very patient, kind and generous while tipping for Wimpy’s Fund in the beer tent. The time I worked serving refreshments flew by. The entertainment was great which always brings people in.”

Volunteer Bonnie Estrada worked in the ride ticket booth. “I was pleased that most everyone, young and old, were very polite. Management of the booth by the Lions Club was well organized and put in a lot of work.”

This year the winner of the 50/50 raffle won $2,000.

Rockton Lion Kerri Wallace who spent many years in a leadership position with the festival said, “It is such a great time and people work so hard, the public has no idea how many volunteer hours go into this festival and all of the profits are given away!”

The 2024 Rockton Lions Club Old Settlers Days festival created family fun all four days, concluding with a spectacular fireworks display.

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