Arts, Culture, and Events

Fourth Fridays

Fourth Fridays is a collaborative event between Sterling Main Street, Downtown business owners and the local arts community. Each month, business owners will open their doors to host artists of all kinds: visual artists, theatre groups, jewelry makers, musicians and more.  Fourth Fridays will be an ongoing monthly event occurring on the 4th Friday of each month from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. at a variety of our downtown businesses.

Fourth Fridays seeks to increase the community's awareness of the businesses blooming in Downtown Sterling and bring to light the amazingly talented artists and musicians who live here right in our own backyards.

For more information on Fourth Fridays, please visit their website, email them, or check out their page on Facebook.


Movies at Grandon

The City of Sterling hosted the first annual outdoor summer movie program in 2012.  This program continues to provide the community a family-friendly activity.  This event is held in Central Memorial Park in Sterling at the Grandon Ampitheater.  The movies are family-friendly and free to all!  The movies are shown on Thursday nights at dusk throughout the summer.  There are concessions such as drinks, popcorn, hot dogs, and desserts available to purchase at the showings.   
 
For information regarding sponsorship, advertising or concession opportunities for your organization please contact Janna Groharing at Sterling Main Street 815-626-8610 or info@sterlingmainstreet.org

The summer 2014 movie titles have been released.  2014 Movies in the Park Flyer 

In case of storms, we will reschedule the movie. Notice will be posted on Facebook and the City website as well as reported to local media. 

2014 Summer Movie Dates  Movies Coordinated Events   ALERTS
Monday June 2nd  Monsters University    
Thursday June 12  Despicable Me 2    
Thursday June 26 The Fox and the Hound  Dog Days June 21st @ Grandon  
Thursday July 10  Frozen    
Thursday July 24 The Muppet Movie  Music Fest July 26 @ Grandon  
Thursday August 7 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory     

Midway Drive-In and Diner

The Midway Drive-In opened in 1950 in Sterling, and has been in continuous operation ever since. The Midway Drive-In is a genuine historical landmark as it is home to the oldest standing Drive-In screen in Illinois. It is dedicated to preserving this Dixon and Sterling historical landmark and paying tribute to the American tradition of the Drive-In Theatre.  From the classic retro “spaceship” ticket booth, to the Playground for the kiddies in front of the screen, to the full service concession stand, a trip to the Midway is like entering a time capsule to the 1950’s.

The spacious Midway Drive-In parking lot can hold up to 500 cars. The Midway screen is a GIANT 90 feet across, giving a massive film presentation. After dusk, the stars can clearly be seen, and depending on the weather, major star constellations (such as the Big Dipper) may be visible. There is nothing more beautiful than watching a film under the stars.

One thing has changed at the Midway, and that is the sound format. Gone are the old “in car” speakers. Now the sound is transmitted to your car via FM stereo. Just tune your car or portable radio to 91.3 FM and you will receive the sound in dynamic FM stereo.

The Midway Diner has a classic self serve Drive-In design and offers a full restaurant menu including Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, Hot Dogs, Corn Dogs, Nachos, Candy, Ice Cream, French Fries, Onion Rings, Fried Cheese Sticks, Pizza, Cotton Candy, a wide variety of Soda, and of course, Popcorn! Just grab a tray and serve yourself! Our friendly staff will be more than happy to assist you.

You can have a seat in one of our classic restaurant booths or “carry out” your Midway Diner meals or snacks to the patio or back to your car.

Please visit the Midway's website, Facebook, or Twitter


Mexican Fiesta Days

Fiesta Days held in the Sterling/Rock Falls communities began in the 1940s to celebrate Mexico's Independence Day.  The Mexican Fiesta in Sterling and Rock Falls every September honors the Latin American heritage brought to the Midwest by generations of immigrants.  Each 16th of September in Mexico, at the stroke of midnight, the president, governors and mayors re-enact the Grito de Dolores, the Call for Independence first proclaimed by Padre Miguel Hidalgo in 1810. The holiday is celebrated as close to the 16th as practical.  The  Fiesta Day parade is the only parade that spans the Rock River ...Great food, entertainment, dance, and see the Fiesta Day Queen be crowned!

Most events take place at the Latin American Social Club, 2708 W. Lincolnway, Sterling, IL  61081.  Fore more information, please contact the Sauk Valley Chamber of Commerce.


Seasonal Sights and Sounds Parade

A float in the parade
A float in the parade

Seasonal Sights & Sounds is the City of Sterling's kick off to the holiday season and takes place the week following Thanksgiving.  The Sauk Valley Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Seasonal Sights and Sounds Parade in Sterling.  Each year, the event takes place in downtown Sterling.

The holiday festivities start on Wednesday of that week with the Toys for Tots Drive-by Drop-off outside the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce Office at 211 Locust Street.  Community members and businesses can pull up outside the office and a volunteer from the Sauk Valley Marine Detachment or the Chamber is on hand to take new toy and/or monetary donation.  The event is from 11:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Thursday night features a Community Concert at 7:00 p.m. at the First Congregational Church.  Local performers and church choirs perform during this annual musical experience.

Friday night citizens can join the city's Mayor and the parade Grand Marshals for the lighting of the City's official Christmas tree at Grandon Civic Center in Central Park which also features music by the Challand Middle School Madrigal singers.  The tree lighting takes place at 5:30 p.m. followed by the Sterling Rock Falls Family YMCA "Running of the Santa's" fun run.

Following the start of the run, the holiday parade will start at 6:00 p.m.  After the parade downtown businesses stay open late and Santa makes a visit to Sterling Federal Bank where children can have their pictures taken with him!  The Centennial Community Players Association also as a performance of "It's A Wonderful Life - A Live Radio Play" at 7:00 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church.

On Saturday the holiday fun continues with Breakfast with Santa sponsored by the Sterling Kiwanis Club at the Sterling Family Moose Center (tickets available at the door). Woodlawn Arts Academy hosts a Kringle Krunch Bazaar where children and parents can visit Santa's workshop and shop for presents for mom and dad (food available/tickets at the door).  Saturday night the Centennial Community Players Association performs "It's A Wonderful Life - A Live Radio Play" at 7:00 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church.

The week comes to a close with a third performance of "It's A Wonderful Life - A Live Radio Play" at 2:00 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church.  For more information about these holiday events, contact the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce at 815-625-2400, by email or please visit the Chamber's website.


Sterling Municipal Band

Sterling Grandon Civic Center
Sterling Grandon Civic Center

Sterling Municipal Band - Sterling, Illinois

The Sterling Silver Cornet Band was active in the 1850s. The band participated in the first Republican Rally to be held in Whiteside County on July 18, 1856. The main orator was Abraham Lincoln. The next band organized was the Keystone Band, sponsored by Keystone Manufacturing in the late 1870s. This band was rated the best in Illinois in a contest held in Dixon. The band was under the direction of John Kadel for 21 years. Kadel also directed the 6th Regimental Band of Illinois at the time of the Spanish-American War.

The Sterling Municipal Band was organized and first directed by Jake Hitzelberger, a former circus band director, around the turn of the century.  Mr. Hitzelberger played Taps at the burial of his predecessor, John Kadel.


The Dedication Ceremony

The band shell was dedicated on July 20, 1938.

A concert was presented by seven area school bands. The bands were as follows: St. Mary’s band, J.J. Richards; Milledgeville, Ralph Fahrney; Wallace school, K.M. Bailey; Chadwick, W.R. Fuller; Polo, Henry W. Burch; Sterling, Gunner Benson; Morrison, Henry W. Burch.

That evening a dinner was hosted by the Sterling-Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce, followed by the Mendelssohn Treble Clef Chorus of Sterling, directed by Mrs. Muriel Phelps. The dedication exercises that followed were opened by the playing of Mr. Richards' latest march, “Salute to Sterling” dedicated to Mr. Grandon in recognition to his great service to the city of Sterling. Mr. Grandon personally presented the Civic Center to the city of Sterling. Mayor W.E. Long accepted the center for the city and expressed the appreciation of the whole community for Mr. Grandon’s generous gift.

The Sterling Municipal Band’s concert that evening included vocal selections by Dora Andreas Wiles and the following list of guest conductors: Capt. H.C. Bronson, director of the 129th Illinois Infantry Band; Joe Bergeim, Milwaukee; Henry Restorff, composer and soloist with the Gilmore Band; Ray Dvorak, Director of the University of Wisconsin Bands; A.R. McCallister, Joliet; Karl King, world famous composer; Clate Chenette, Ames Iowa.

Please visit the Sterling Municipal Band's website for more information and up-to-date schedules.


Storytelling and Arts Festival

Storytelling has existed for thousands of years as a means of orally passing down family traditions or events and generating understanding of different cultures. There is a measure of magic shared between the teller and audience during this time.  There are visions, values, feelings and memories passed on in words. Storytellers send out their words and receive feedback from their listeners in the form of body language. When this connection works, a special form of energy is present - it's magic.

The mission of the Sterling Storytelling and Arts Festival is to preserve the art of storytelling, present an event that can be appreciated and enjoyed by young and old alike, give the community a unique cultural event that is entertaining and educational and present an event that gives insight into many ethnic groups.

Each Labor Day Weekend the Sterling Public Library and Woodlawn Arts Academy present two days of storytelling with four nationally known storytellers, a Juried Art Show and other fine arts related activities.  The Festival will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2012 with a line-up of audience favorite tellers and local artists and their work. 

Woodlawn Arts Academy's mission is to provide quality artistic opportunities to the Sauk Valley Community.  During this two day event many artists will have their work on display and there may be a special musical feature or two. 

This festival draws an audience from all over Northern Illinois and is family friendly.The festival opens on Friday night with a free Juried Art Show followed by "Sories for the Adult Audience."  Saturday's events are geared toward families and admission is by donation.  The festival ends on Saturday evening with "Tales in the Dark."


The Sterling Mural Society

The Sterling Mural Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting the heritage of the Sterling area by promoting the painting of murals on buildings which brings the past into the present.

The Society works in conjunction with the Sterling Mural Commission, which is appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council. Sterling has more than a dozen murals in the downtown vicinity, highlighting our 18th and 19th century past.  The City of Sterling Mural Commission consists of 3 members who serve 3-year terms. Meetings of the commission are scheduled as needed. Board members are appointed by the Mayor with the consent of the City Council.

You can reach the Sterling Mural Society at 815-626-8610 or PO Box 261 Sterling, IL 61081-1271.


Woodlawn Arts Academy

Woodlawn Arts Academy is located at 3807 Woodlawn Road in Sterling. A facility of the Dillon Foundation, the Woodlawn Arts Academy was built for quality, safety and efficiency and designed for the pursuit and celebration of the arts. The Academy provides special lighting for optimum visibility when creating visual artwork, soundproof rooms of the highest quality for music lessons, a specialized floor in the dance studio to protect dancers’ joints, an environmentally friendly geothermal heating system, the J. Mark Beaty Performance Center for putting on plays and recitals, and much more!  Visit the facility, visit their website, and find Woodlawn on Facebook and Twitter to see all they have to offer!