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NIU community members involved in Oregon, IL, Rockin’ River Fest, June 17

June 8, 2017

On Saturday, June 17, Oregon, IL – home of NIU’s Lorado Taft Field Campus – will host the first annual Rockin’ River Fest from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the riverfront in downtown Oregon. Several members of the NIU community were instrumental in making this new festival a reality.

Donna Mann, Director of Continuing Professional Education and Credentialing Programs for the NIU Division of Outreach, Engagement, and Regional Development, is a member of the Oregon Chamber of Commerce and the Festival Executive Committee. The festival is designed to highlight local talent and businesses, and it is being co-produced by the Oregon Chamber of Commerce and Oregon Together.

Mann says, “As a representative of NIU in the Oregon Community I think it is important to be actively engaged in community activities and represent the university in a positive way.  This attitude is shared by and demonstrated by other local residents who are NIU employees, as well as staff at the NIU Lorado Taft Campus.” Melissa Henrikson of NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies is actively involved in the Oregon Together organization and is one of the entertainment coordinators for the festival.  Melanie Costello, Outdoor Education Coordinator at the NIU Lorado Taft Campus, and the Lorado Taft team will be participating as one of the Uniquely Oregon Community Showcase Exhibitors, hosting interactive activities for kids and families.

NIU undergraduate Renard Cheren (BA Communication, class of 2018) is one of the festival’s videographers. Cheren, an entrepreneur and founder of Cheren Productions, has produced aerial videos for the City of Oregon’s official website and for a number of businesses in the Oregon area. He is excited to capture footage of the festival through a combination of hand-held and drone cameras. Cheren says, “I’m happy to be part of the first annual Rockin’ River Fest and to help the city grow with my creativity.”

Mann says of the festival, “For several years there had been discussion about creating a summer festival that would help launch the summer tourist season, then the Autumn on Parade Festival (now in its 47th year) would feature the natural beauty of the fall season.  The Oregon Chamber of Commerce recognized this need and because of my experience in organizing other festivals, I was asked to sit on the Chamber Board representing NIU and help lead the effort to create this event.”

The festival includes a range of creative activities to appeal to different people. Highlights include the Tug Across the Rock, Rock River Adventure Triathalon, a “Game Spot” with unique games and activities, historical walking tours of the city, art gallery openings and two entertainment stages.  The River’s Edge Stage will showcase local talent, and the Chill Zone Stage will feature three regional bands: Love and Thunder, Dirt Road Rebelz, and The Party Doctors.  The “Uniquely Oregon” Showcase will feature local organizations and products.

More information is available on or on the Facebook page rockinriverfest.

Questions may be directed to [email protected].