Verne Fest May 25-26 at Davis Park

Verne Smith was awarded the Rockford Area Music Industry Award for “Biggest Music Fan of All-Time” in 2001. He died Jan. 12, 2011, at age 64 of esophagus cancer. His death left a huge hole in the local music industry. (File photo)

Staff Report

Verne Fest, a two-day festival tribute honoring Rockford’s No. 1 music fan, Verne K. Smith, will be from 5 to 11 p.m., Friday, May 25, and noon-11 p.m., Saturday, May 26, on Davis Park’s North Lawn, 300 S. Wyman St., downtown Rockford.

Smith, awarded the Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) Award for “Biggest Music Fan of All-Time” in 2001, drew the respect of so many local musicians that organizers of the event could not accommodate all of the bands asking to perform.

Smith died at age 64 Jan. 12, 2011, after a battle with esophagus cancer. A staple at live music events, Smith’s passing left a huge hole in the music community. Sometimes known as “Dancin’ Verne,” Smith was often the first to arrive at gigs, sometimes before the bands, and the last to leave.

The goal of Verne Fest is to raise funds to create a permanent memorial at Davis Park in honor of Smith, a RAMI Scholarship in Smith’s honor, and to make a donation to The Arc of Winnebago, Boone & Ogle Counties.

Smith participated in The Arc’s Independent Living program.

Tickets to the event are $10 in advance, $12 at the gate, and free for children 12 and younger. Tickets are available exclusively through the BMO Harris Bank Center box office, 300 Elm St., Rockford, online at, or charge by phone at (815) 968-5222.

Following is the musical lineup for the event:

Friday, May 25

5-6 p.m. — Rollin’ Whiskey

6:30-7:30 p.m. — Prime Time Live Band

8-9 p.m. — The Missing Links

9:30-11 p.m. — Big Daddy Woo Woo with special guest Harlan Jefferson

Saturday, May 26

Noon-12:30 p.m. — Daybreak (RAMI Youth Charity Jam winner)

12:45-1:30 p.m. — Black Damage

1:45-2:45 p.m. — Rubik Steel

3-4 p.m. — RIVE (members of Suite Oblivion and The Merkins)

4:30-5:30 p.m. — Iron Cross

6-7 p.m. — Pulse 18

7:30-9 p.m. — Audiodrive

9:30-11 p.m. — RIPT (reunion show)

Event updates will be posted at

From the May 23-29, 2012, issue

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