North End Commons presents Magnolia Festival: Event set for noon-midnight, Saturday, May 12

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117873017730978.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘A Jane Magnolia in bloom.‘);

Purchase Jane Magnolia trees, taste the food of the North End, listen to live local music and participate in a silent auction.

The North End Commons Business Association (NECBA) will present the Second Annual Magnolia Festival from noon to midnight, Saturday, May 12, at the corner of North Main and Auburn streets in Rockford.

The event, created by the NECBA board in 2006, celebrates the Jane Magnolia tree. Last year, NEBCA brought in 500 Jane Magnolias, selling nearly 400 of them and planting 100 more in the North Main and Auburn Street area. The trees will again be available for purchase at this year’s festival.

The initial seed money for the program, titled “Magnolia Row at the North End,” came from a 2006 grant of $2,500 from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. The program’s goal is to continue the beautification of the North End, the city and the surrounding communities.

Following is the schedule of events for this year’s festival:

Noon-12:15 p.m.—Opening ceremony

12:15-1 p.m.—Kathy Mehalko Music Express Karaoke & DJ Service (Fun time for kids and family. Mehalko offers different activities and singing for kids.)

1-4 p.m.—John Burns, Phil Pilcher & Co. (Neighborhood guys start music lineup with classic jazz, contemporary music and R & B.)

4-5 p.m.—Music Express Karaoke & DJ Service

5-8 p.m.—Boulas Trio (Doug Furze and company entertain with great easy listening, R & B and jazzy New Orleans sounds.)

8-8:30 p.m.—Music Express Karaoke & DJ Service

8:30-11:30 p.m.—Bare Bones (Favorite Rockford band ends the night with classic rock.)

Other offerings include free caricatures by Rockford Register Star cartoonist Bruce Quast from noon to 5 p.m.; food from the North End provided by Altamore Ristorante, Der Rathskeller and JT’s Bourbon Street Grille; and a silent auction from noon to 6 p.m.

Cost for the rain-or-shine event is $5 for adults, free for children 12 and younger. A free prize will be given to the first 100 kids. To buy a tree, or if you have any questions, call (815) 969-5550.

Why jane Magnolias?

The planting of any type of tree, shrub or flower adds enormous beauty to homes, businesses and community. But why magnolias? And why “Jane”?

The Jane Magnolia tree is one of seven in the series of “little girl” magnolias developed by seven female horticulturists at the Minnesota Arboretum some 60 years ago. Jane has a reddish-purple blossom and is the latest of the magnolias to bloom, blossoming from late April to early May after the danger of frost in spring. It is the only one to have some blooms in the summertime.

In full bloom, the Jane Magnolia is totally covered with beautifully colored blossoms, making it a true show-stopper at the height of its blooming season. The Jane Magnolia also shares the same name with Burpee Museum’s Jane the Dinosaur and Rockford College’s Jane Addams.

NECBA hopes to continue in this worthwhile effort to beautify Rockford and the surrounding communities in Winnebago County by planting hundreds of magnolias every year. The goal is to be known someday as the Magnolia Capital of Illinois!


NEBCA hopes you find value in what they are doing and consider making a donation. Donations can be made at the festival or by sending a check, made payable to “NEBCA Magnolia Fest,” to 1432 N. Main St., Rockford, IL 61103.

Putting together such a festival and the planting and maintenance of these trees requires an enormous amount of time, commitment and finances. Whether it is by attending the event, buying one tree or more, becoming a festival sponsor or by making a small contribution, it is all helpful and very much appreciated, NEBCA noted.

Major sponsors are the trunk and roots of the tree. Hundreds, if not thousands, of small contributions are the lifeline—they are the leaves and blossoms of the tree.

Magnolia Festival Committee members are Alberto Altamore, event chairman; Mike DuPre, event manager; Jesse Dabson, event coordinator; and Lori McGuire, music and promotions.

from the May 2-8, 2007, issue

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