The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

August 8, 2013

Summer Nights to end season

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — FULTON, Ill. — After a summer filled of fun, the Fulton Summer Nights event series will wrap up the 2013 year today.

“I think this has been the most successful year we’ve had,” Fulton Chamber of Commerce Director Heather Bennett said.

The Summer Nights celebration is a summer long event, highlighting one night in June, July and August to provide family entertainment to the community of Fulton for free.

The event came to creation five years ago, after Pastor Scott Stephan of the Second Reform Church in Fulton suggested the idea at a Chamber of Commerce meeting.

“It was more like a brainstorming meeting where they were talking about how to increase tourism in Fulton and I brought up that there wasn’t a lot of things for families to do,” Stephan said.

To drum up that family interaction, Stephan suggested the Summer Nights event from a similar community celebration at his former home in Elk Rapids, Mich.

The Chamber felt strongly about Stephan’s idea and began planning the first ever Summer Nights event in 2008.

“We saw it as a way to encourage fellowship in the community and help out local businesses. So, we looked to the community and the local churches to help with planning and organization,” Bennett said.

Each year, a number of different church affiliations and community organizations get together to sponsor the three separate summer nights, each one offering a unique variety of entertainment.

“They’ve all been really well attended and they all offer something very different,” Bennett said. “A lot of the games are different and the food is always different.”

Allowing a diverse group of people and organizations to sponsor each specific night gives Fulton residents something new and interesting to look forward to each month.

Barbara Suehl-Janis, owner and operator of Windmill Reality, has been involved with planning the event since it began and said she has enjoyed each and every bit of it.

“I was on the committee that first started the summer nights. It’s so wonderful and fun, and I’m so happy to be involved,” Suehl-Janis said.

As more and more groups get involved with the community event, the more recognition and popularity it garners, and the bigger it becomes.

“All the vendors through town have been very generous but I would like to see them get involved a little more by setting up booths,” Stephan said. “I think it’s such a great deal and it really brings everyone together.”