With the Fourth of July just around the corner, thoughts turn to celebrations, fireworks and picnics.

It’s also the time for the 49th annual Riverboat Days that will take place in Clinton's Riverview Park on July 2, 3 and 4.

While the festival will have a smaller format this year, just having the festival at all is a big deal.

During the past year, RBD organizers have paid several visits to the Clinton Herald as they worked to learn what the community wanted to have at its annual event.

With last year's perfect storm of rain, a carnival shut down by state inspectors and complaints that ticket prices were too high, organizers seriously questioned whether they would be able to plan another festival.

But they asked questions, collected survey answers and listened to the community as they worked to piece together a celebration.

The first part of it actually was in May, when the inaugural Miles Dirt Days was held.

This is where all the dirt events that had been held at Riverboat Days were set up for a weekend.

The second part of the festival, which will include musical acts, vendors and family activities, will be July 2, 3 and 4 along the Mississippi River in Clinton.

The goal was to have a smaller, community-based format.

As Don Tegeler, Riverboat Days commodore and board member, said, they wanted to try to convert it back into more of a community-oriented event and try to get more of the community involved: “That’s how it all started out and to me, that’s the whole point behind Riverboat Days.”

Will it work?

That remains to be seen.

We hope it does.

Riverboat Days has always been a fixture for Clinton residents and for many in surrounding communities who come here to see it.

While it has had its problems with attendance, we know the organizers have worked hard to address it. They’ve lowered ticket prices and have brought in local vendors and entertainment.

Their main hope is that they will be able to make enough money to cover this year’s cost and have enough left over to serve as a springboard for the 50th celebration next year.

“If people really believe in Riverboat Days we need them to support that event,” Tegeler has told the Herald.

Now is that time.

This is Charlene Bielema’s weekly take on issues in the Clinton area.

 She is a Fulton, Ill., native and has been employed with the Clinton Herald since June 1995. She has been the Herald’s editor since 2002.

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