FULTON, Ill. — Musical performances and festivals have become regular occurrences at Heritage Canyon in Fulton, but sustaining the growing demand hasn’t been a simple task.
As the popularity of live music continues to increase in the river town, providing a secure and desirable location for those musicians to perform quickly became a priority for the ones planning the activities. Armed with support from city officials and a committee formed through the city’s Management and Planning Programs in Non-Metropolitan Groups (MAPPING) program, that secure location has arrived.
Starting this weekend, the Riverfront Enhancement MAPPING group will begin the first phase of construction on a gazebo at Heritage Canyon which will act as a performance stage for any and all musicians who perform in the historic canyon.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time, said Bob Whitten, committee member and owner of Awesometown Music Productions.
“The canyon has been needing an overflow area for the church for awhile now, so we started by looking at that,” Whitten said. “After some research we realized that stages back in the period days were actually gazebos. We thought how perfect that would be to add to the canyon.”
After doing weeks worth of research, the committee discovered a perfect depiction of what it wanted to see in place at the canyon. The traditional design of the gazebo supported the period style of the buildings already featured in the canyon, and the size of the concept could easily house a seven-piece band, one of the largest to perform there.
Though the group had conceptualized its plan, execution of that plan had reached a standstill. That was until Maloney Equipment in Fulton donated all of the lumber needed to build the structure.
“It’s all recycled wood from the Wildwood Farms building that was demolished. Maloney owned the building and they decided to donate it to us,” Whitten said.
From there, Tru Construction of Fulton volunteered to provide the labor needed to construct the gazebo, with some assistance from the Riverfront MAPPING committee and the Parks and Recreation committee.
It is that kind of community support that Whitten has always admired about Fulton, and why city officials were so enthusiastic when the MAPPING program began.
The construction of the gazebo will be the first, major accomplishment of any of the city’s five MAPPING groups, but what Whitten considers the beginning of something great.
“The whole town has been really supportive of our ideas and plans,” Whitten said. “This is the start of something big down here. I’ve always been a firm believer in wanting to leave things better than when we got here. That’s starting to come to life.”
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