Stage set for music festival Oct. 1-2 in Illini State Park

Event hopes to generate $75,000 to build a handicapped-accessible playground

The Fresh From the Midwest Music Festival will return 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 2, to Illini State Park in Marseilles for its second attempt after last year’s festival was rained out.

The Belle Rangers, The Gaffney Davis Band, River Valley Rangers, Christine Eltrevoog, Chris Farrell and Aaron Kelly will have a bigger, better stage to play after Laborers Local 393 built a raised stage with a shelter in hopes of having the show continue if the weather doesn’t hold up.

Retired Local 393 Business Manager and Illini State Park Foundation Board Member David Raikes said last year’s event brought thousands to Illini State Park before the rain washed the crowd away, and he hopes this year’s event will bring more eyes to the park. Raikes hopes to raise $75,000 to build a new handicapped-accessible playground and redo some of the landscaping around the park to make it more appealing.

“We’re blessed to have a state park like this in our backyard,” Raikes said. “Upgrades to Illini State Park over the years have grown minimal because of the state’s financial situation over the decades but now we’re building this stage, the concession stand is getting renovated and there’s a new shelter to replace an old one.”

Raikes said Illini State Park has been a destination for Marseilles citizens for a long time but it has since become a place for the overflow from Starved Rock State Park on the weekends.

Raikes was joined by Mike Farrare, Ron Hickey, Sr., Mark Parisot and Billy Peters to build the structure that will soon become a stage.