Fourth of July celebrations, fireworks to light up the Sauk Valley

Spectators watch as fireworks illuminate the sky Monday, July 3, 2023 at Petunia Fest in Dixon. 90’s rock band Everclear finished off the weekend after the fireworks with a show on the main stage in downtown Dixon.

With the Fourth of July holiday around the corner, there are plenty of ways to celebrate throughout the Sauk Valley. From live music and food vendors to skydiving parties and carnivals, here is a list of local places to bring in the holiday.


The Petunia Festival is celebrating its 60th year with more food trucks, entertainment and live music. From July 3 to 7, guests can enjoy games and prizes at the carnival on Lincoln Statue Drive, between Dixon High School and the riverfront. The carnival operates from 5 to 11 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, July 3 and 5, and from 1 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, July 4, 6 and 7.

Special needs quiet hours return this year from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday. Parents can bring their special needs children to enjoy the carnival without the sensory overload of flashing lights, music and large crowds. Parents must register their child and one adult at the Petunia Festival headquarters at 77 S. Hennepin Ave. in Dixon to receive a special wristband that is good for the two hours.

“This was a huge success last year,” Petunia Festival President Debbie Bay said. “We received a lot of great reports from families appreciating that time for their kids to be able to enjoy the carnival just like any other kid.”

Bay regretfully announced that musical headliner Mark Chesnutt had to cancel because of health issues. However, she said she was pleased to report that country music star James Otto would perform in Chesnutt’s place on the Kona Brewing main stage at 9 p.m. Saturday. Other live performers include Gina Venier, Slick Trigger, Tripping Molly, Kirkland, Ashley Cooke and others.

Unfortunately, Bay said, The Loves Park Ski Broncos water show also has been canceled due to hazardous conditions on the Rock River, including rising water levels and floating debris.

The weekend winds down at 1 p.m. Sunday with the annual parade on Peoria Avenue across from St. Mary’s Catholic School. The celebration ends with the fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. over the Rock River. You can also listen live on River Country 101.7-FM.

Rock Falls

The Fourth of July holiday ignites early this year as Rock Falls kicks off the festivities with its Independence Day Celebration. Eat ‘N’ Beats At The District starts at 4 p.m. July 3 in the RB&W District Park at 201 E. Second St. in Rock Falls. Guests can chow down on fare from several food trucks that include newcomers T&D BBQ, The Dirty Bird 815 and The Press Box while shopping from various business and craft vendors. Live music will be provided by country-rock band 3 Day Rain from 6 to 9 p.m. on the amphitheater stage. The Sterling-Rock Falls Jaycees fireworks display starts at dusk, with fireworks launching from Rock Falls’ Lawrence Park. The show is free, and the Jaycees will be on-site collecting donations. According to Jaycees Vice President Dylan Devers, the Jaycees have provided the community with their fireworks show for nearly 50 years. For information on the Independence Day Celebration, call 815-622-1106 or email


The town celebrates Saturday, July 6, with a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at 8 a.m. at Prophetstown High School at 38 Ferry St. There also will be food trucks, including B&T BBQ and Brito’s Grill. Live music by Gray Wolf will start at 6 p.m., followed by a fireworks display at Prophetstown State Park. To reach the park, take either Interstate 80 or Interstate 88 and exit on State Route 78. If coming from I-88, head south; if from I-80, head north. Once you reach Prophetstown, follow the directional signs. The park is on the south side of the Rock River within the city limits.


The festivities begin with a parade at 11 a.m. July 4, on Lincoln Highway. The fun continues the next day from 4 to 10 p.m. at Atwood and Cooper parks, 10th Avenue and 20th Street, with food trucks, a performance from the municipal band and a fireworks display. Viewers can tune their radios to 102.3 FM to hear a soundtrack scheduled to play alongside the fireworks.

The Chicagoland Skydiving Center at 1207 Gurler Road, is hosting its Independence/Legends Boogie on July 4 through July 7. The event will feature all-day caravan jumps for skydivers of all skill levels, live music by DJ Dalíøn, Beer Olympics, a mechanical bull contest, overnight camping and more. Registration is mandatory and can be done on the Chicagoland Skydiving Center website.

Brandon Clark

I received my Associate's in Communication (Media) from Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, IL. I'm currently finishing my Bachelor of Journalism at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. I enjoy engaging the community in thoughtful discussion on current events and look forward to hearing what you have to say. Stay curious. Stay informed.