Happy New Year!

screen_shot_2015-09-11_at_8-57-55_am_grandeWe’re looking forward to the great things to come in 2017. Over the next few days, we’ll be releasing our Annual Report setting forth our accomplishments of the past year and launching our 2017 Partnership Campaign which allows us to continue to bring you great community events and activities. We’ll also be rolling out our 2017 schedule of events.

But one of the first things we need to do is to say a huge THANK YOU to all who contributed to our success in 2016. More than 160 volunteers came together over the course of the year and contributed more than 2200 hours to help make Sterling a better place for all of us! From our board and committee members who regularly attend meetings to those who just gave an hour or two to help with the specific events, your contributions are priceless to us – we could not do what we do without you!

As we begin gearing up for the 2017, there is always room for more community involvement. Let us know how you’d like to take part in the fun.


Seeking New Board Member

vacancy-iconSterling Main Street currently has a vacancy on its Board of Directors.  We are seeking an individual who has a passion for their community, and would like to take an active role in making Sterling, Illinois a great place to live, work and play!   This is a volunteer position, and would be filling an unexpired 3 year term ending August 2019.

Sterling Main Street’s focus lies on the Central Business District of Sterling – keeping its storefronts full and vibrant, along with downtown beautification projects.   Main Street also coordinates a number of community-wide events, including, but not limited to:  Movies at Grandon, the Twin City Farmers Market, Hot Dog Day, Main Street’s annual Car Show and Music Fest, Seasonal Sights & Sounds, as well as a variety of other activities.

Time commitment – The Main Street board meets once per month (8 AM meeting time).  Subcommittees for its various events meet at different times throughout the year, as needed. A willingness to take an active role in at least 2 event/activity committees is encouraged.

Fundraising is also a part of our board’s role – as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, Main Street relies on its annual Partnership Campaign and Sponsorship contributions for funding of its events and activities.

If you would be interested in serving as a Board Member for Sterling Main Street, please submit your statement of interest to janna@sterlingmainstreet.org or deliver to the Sterling Main Street office at 318 First Avenue, PO Box 261, Sterling, Illinois.  All information received will be kept confidential.

Should you have any questions, or like additional information about the position, please contact Janna Groharing, Executive Director, or Brian Grummert, Board President.

The 40+ year tradition continues with Annual Hot Dog Day!

11228914_935455436493575_5298908226455577882_oSTERLING, ILHot Dogs & Sidewalk Sales take over Downtown Sterling.  This annual event, held each year on the 1st Friday of August, has been a tradition for more than 40 years in Downtown Sterling.   On Friday, August 5th, from 11 AM until 2 PM (or while supplies last), downtown merchants will be cooking up hot dogs by the thousands and offering them up for just a quarter, along with drinks and chips.   This year there are 8 cooking sites, including SBM, Golden Key Gifts, JJM Printing, Showplace Antiques, Air Play Sport, City Hall, Smitty’s Sew-n-Vac and Country at Heart.

“Last year, our 5 cooking sites sold over 4,700 hot dogs in just 3 hours,” says Janna Groharing, executive director of Sterling Main Street.  “This year, we’ve bumped up the number of hot dogs, and added a few more cooking locations, which will hopefully alleviate some of the long lines we’ve had in past years.”

In addition to being able to grab an inexpensive lunch, businesses throughout the downtown will be holding sidewalk sales throughout the day, and other family-friendly activities.   Face-painting will be available at the Sterling Main Street office, the YWCA of the Sauk Valley will be hosting “Fizzy Fun science games” and offering root beer floats, and the Sterling Theater will have a special 1 PM movie matinee show.

Last year over 500 bright yellow Hot Dog Day t-shirts were given out.  Join us this year, wear your yellow shirt, and enter to win a drawing for $50 cash!  You can enter to win at any of the 8 cooking sites, or the Sterling Main Street office between 11 AM and 2 PM on Friday.  The winner will be drawn later that afternoon.    2016 Hot Dog Day T-shirts will be available for purchase at any of the 8 cooking sites for just $2 each. Quantities are limited.

For a complete listing of all the activities, cooking sites and sidewalks sales, visit www.sterlingmainstreet.org, follow Sterling Main Street on Facebook, or stop by any of the participating businesses to pick up an event guide.

Sterling Main Street is a non-profit organization with the mission of promoting, revitalizing and preserving Sterling’s downtown business district through broad-based community support, including both public and private partnerships. For more information on Sterling Main Street please visit www.sterlingmainstreet.org.

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Mid-Summer’s Bounty: A Farm-to-Table Dining Experience coming Saturday, August 6, 2016

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STERLING, ILCelebrating National Farmers’ Market Week with a Farm to Table Dinner Event.  Sterling Main Street and the Twin City Farmers’ Market are planning a “Mid-Summer’s Bounty: A Farm-to-Table Dining Experience.”  This special dinner event is set for Saturday evening, August 6th and will be held at the Twin City Farmers’ Market at 106 Avenue A in downtown Sterling.   Local Chef Johnathon Zellar has designed and will be preparing a unique 5 course meal featuring the locally produced, in-season offerings of the vendors of the Twin City Farmers’ Market.   Main Street and the Market have also partnered with Generations Brewing Co. of Freeport, IL, who will be sampling their brews, expertly paired to complement each course.

Tickets are on sale now for $50 each.  Only 100 tickets will be sold for this unique dining opportunity.   Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be available at the door.

Several Main Street® communities across the state of Illinois, including Sterling, Quincy and Batavia, are hosting similar farm-to-table events on this same weekend in recognition of National Farmers’ Market Week and in support of the local food movement

“This event supports and promotes both the Twin City Farmers’ Market and local agriculture,” said Janna Groharing, executive director of Sterling Main Street, who oversees the Market, “We wanted to bring community together to share a meal and educate on seasonality, all while providing a fun way to raise funds to continue to grow the Twin City Farmers’ Market and further Sterling Main Street’s mission to revitalize Downtown Sterling.”

We could not do this without the support of our sponsors, including the CGH Health Foundation, Sterling Federal Bank, Dennis Electric of Tampico, Loescher HVAC and Generations Brewing Co.

Tickets are on sale now and are available online at www.sterlingmainstreet.org, or by calling Sterling Main Street at 815.626.8610, or stopping by the office.

Sterling Main Street is a non-profit organization with the mission of promoting, revitalizing and preserving Sterling’s downtown business district through broad-based community support, including both public and private partnerships. For more information on Sterling Main Street please visit www.sterlingmainstreet.org.

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Sterling Main Street Music Fest returns to the Grandon Civic Center on Saturday July 23, 2016


Sterling, IL – On Saturday, July 23, 2016 Central Memorial Park and the Grandon Civic Center will once again become the home for Sterling Main Street’s 5th Annual Music Fest, presented this year by Midland States Bank and CGH Medical Center.  This all-ages festival will be the “can’t miss” event of the summer.  This year’s event features 5 great regional bands – The Eskimo Brothers, Miles Nielsen & the Rusted Hearts, Bad Bad Hats, Ottawa and The Dirty Beet Brothers.

The Eskimo Brothers are a high energy honky tonk music trio based out of Nashville, Tennessee.  This reckless and manic show has been battle tested and polished from over 3000 gig hours in the honky tonks of Nashville’s historic Lower Broadway and nearly three years of monthly shows on Beale St. in Memphis.  The band extensively tours throughout the Southeast, Midwest, branching up the East Coast and a tour building out West in 2016.

Rockford, IL-based Miles Nielsen has spent nearly a decade enthralling audiences with music that draws force from the prime years of Western-influenced rock music and classic ‘60s soul. Claiming influences as diverse as Otis Redding’s classic soul and Jellyfish’s cult power pop recordings, Nielsen has thus far released two albums – his debut in 2009 as a solo artist, and then his sophomore album in 2012 as Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts – to critical acclaim and an ever-growing fanbase. The Rusted Hearts’ hot streak will continue this year with their upcoming third LP, Heavy Metal.

Bad Bad Hats is an indie rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kerry Alexander (vocals, guitar, wisdom), Chris Hoge (drums, courage), and Noah Boswell (bass, power) met while attending Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn. Kerry and Chris began writing songs together in 2010, recording a collection of demos that would later become their first EP. The addition of their friend Noah in 2012 solidified the line-up. The indie rock trio’s songwriting quickly caught the ear of Minneapolis label Afternoon Records, whose alumni includes Yellow Ostrich, Now Now, Haley Bonar, and One for the Team, among others. Afternoon Records signed the trio and released their It Hurts EP in early 2013. Two years later, the band is ready to release their bold debut LP, Psychic Reader, due out on July 17th.

Since the release of It Hurts, the three friends have performed around the Midwest, working on new material that expands upon the homespun sound of their previous work. Psychic Reader is the result of their sonic growth. Bolstered by the experimental touches of the album’s producer, Brett Bullion, Psychic Reader draws from the influences of all three members, exploring a number of musical styles over the course of 33 minutes. Kerry’s strong vocals and lyrical sensibilities tie the songs together as a cohesive unit, making for an album that is both surprising and universal.

Through high school friendships, two Craig’s List ads (Musicians Wanted, not Missed Connections), and a few years of trial and error, OTTAWA was born on Cleveland’s west side in the winter of 2014.

Since then, lead singer Dale DeLong, guitarists Will Hooper and Tim Czajka, drummer Steve Crobar and bassist Chris Williams have developed a sound described by Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Troy Smith as “a brand of garage pop that merges elements of indie-rock, blues and new wave that’s quite melodic and hypnotizing.”

That unique sound is a result of the band’s diverse influences, including The Killers, Oasis, Fleetwood Mac, The Velvet Underground, and even 90s pop groups.

According to DeLong, good music “stops you in your tracks and paralyzes you for a moment,” and the band’s debut EP, “Random Lights,” released in December 2014, is a collection of songs that do just that. Throughout the EP,  Ottawa’s dynamic sound shifts from the adrenaline-pumping “The Good Kind,” to the contemplative “Lie to Me,” and has been hailed as “one of the best debut albums of 2014.”

In 2015, “Tempo” was featured on the premiere of the Food Network’s “Top 5 Restaurants,” and tracks from Random Lights have appeared on the Bravo show “Flipping Out” throughout its seventh season.

Judie Vegh of Midwest Action also praised the EP and Ottawa exclaiming that, ”Every now and then a band is born with the creative potential to thrive and succeed in the music industry…Random Lights proves that this band is just getting started on their path to success. Ottawa is certainly a random light that shines ever so brightly among all the others.”

Ottawa took to the road in the summer of 2015 to promote their latest single, “Roman Candle.” The Roman Candle Tour included stops in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other major cities throughout the northeast. The band is currently working on their sophomore EP, to be released in the summer of 2016.

Local favorites, The Dirty Beet Brothers, will open the festival this year.  A high energy band with a focus on creating fun, original music, the Dirty Beet Brothers are influenced by all genres of music, and their sound defies typical traditions. The result is a perfect blend of Bluegrass, Blues, and good old American Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Food & beverage vendors will be onsite for all ages, and a variety of domestic & craft brews will be available for purchase for patrons over 21.    Gates open at 1:00 p.m., and the cost is just $5.00 for ages 13 and up.  12 and under are free with an accompanying adult.  No outside food or beverage allowed, and no pets please.

Tickets are on sale now at www.sterlingmainstreet.org, or by contacting Sterling Main Street at 815/626-8610 or info@sterlingmainstreet.org.  Tickets will also be available at the gate.  Additional event information is available at www.sterlingmainstreet.org.

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Sterling Main Street Car Show & Launch of 50/50 Fundraising Raffle

IMG_4126Sterling, IL – The summer event season in Downtown Sterling kicks off on Sunday, May 22, 2016 with Sterling Main Street’s 3rd Annual Car Show.  Held once again at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and East 2nd Street near Plainwell Brass in downtown Sterling, this annual car show has been a huge hit with the community, and continued growth is anticipated.

“We started with 71 cars for our first event, and quickly maxed out the space available at our original location,” says Janna Groharing, Executive Director of Sterling Main Street.  “Last year we moved to the larger area at 2nd and 2nd, and grew to 116 entrants.  We’d love to see another 50% increase this year.”

New for this year’s event is Main Street’s partnership with area car club, the Sauk Valley Shifters.  “Last year they held a swap meet a few weeks before our show, which was a big success for them.  We began talking at our show last year about combining the two events and never looked back,” continues Groharing.

The day will hold something for all types of car enthusiasts.  The swap meet will run from 8 AM until 4 PM.  Car show registration will begin at 8 AM, judging will begin at Noon, with awards presentations beginning around 2:30 PM.    Advance registration is underway now, with forms available on Main Street’s website, www.sterlingmainstreet.org, or by contacting the Main Street office.  Advance registration is just $12, and will be $15 on the day of the show.  Awards will be given to the Top 40 vehicles, along with a Best of Show.  Also new for 2016 – a Mayor’s Choice Award.  The Sauk Valley Shifters will be presenting an award to the best Rat Rod.

The Car Show also serves as the kick off for ticket sales for Sterling Main Street’s annual 50/50 raffle. Tickets will be on sale through the months of June and July, and a single winner will be drawn during Sterling Main Street’s annual Music Fest on July 23, 2016 at the Grandon Civic Center.

“This is the 3rd year for our raffle and the prize pot continues to grow,” says Brian Grummert, president of Sterling Main Street’s Board of Directors. “We are very proud to be able to say that 100% of our fundraising dollars is put back into the community through Main Street’s activities, events and downtown improvement efforts.”

In addition to Main Street’s annual partnership campaign and sponsorship contributions, ongoing fundraising efforts help the organization be able to continue to grow annual community events such as Hot Dog Day and the Seasonal Sights & Sounds activities.  In addition to annual events and downtown promotions, Main Street focuses efforts on historic preservation and downtown beautification.

Raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20, and will be available through July 23th at the Sterling Main Street office and from Main Street board members.  Main Street volunteers will also be at select Movies at Grandon, Sterling Municipal Band Concerts and the Twin City Farmers’ Market with tickets for sale. Tickets will also be available at the July 23th Music Fest until 7:00 p.m.  The winner will be drawn that evening around 8:15 p.m., just before the last band takes the stage.

For more information about Sterling Main Street, its programs and projects, please contact 815/626-8610 or visit www.sterlingmainstreet.org.

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Sterling Main Street Named Quarterfinalist for “America’s Main Streets” Contest

Sterling Main Street Named Quarterfinalist for “America’s Main Streets” Contest
Support Sterling Main Street in Sterling, Illinois by Voting Today

STERLING, IL –The national small business movement, Independent We Stand, announces the quarterfinalists, including Sterling Main Street, of the 2016 Independent We Stand “America’s Main Streets” contest. As the lifeblood of our cities and towns, Main Streets play an important role in the long-term success of communities and help build a sense of place. Independent We Stand invites the public to vote for their favorite quarterfinalist and move a deserving Main Street one step closer to the grand prize of $25,000.

In 1999 Sterling Main Street began organizing as a dedicated small group of Sterling business owners and community leaders who envisioned a vibrant downtown experience for all.   Working for many years to bring the Main Street® Program to Sterling, their hard work and vision was finally rewarded when they received official accreditation from the Illinois Main Street Program in March of 2009.  Today, Sterling Main Street, a volunteer-driven organization, continues to utilize the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach® to downtown revitalization.  This approach is based on a comprehensive strategy, tailored to local needs and opportunities in four broad areas:  Organization, Design, Economic Vitality and Promotion.  Sterling Main Street also provides oversights for the Twin City Farmers’ Market, the Murals, and the Welcome Center & Gallery in Downtown Sterling.  “The downtown district is the heart and soul of any community – its shops and merchants helping to provide its unique character.  Providing support for the merchants in the downtown district, coordinating activities and events to draw the community (and beyond) to the downtown, and helping preserve and beautify the downtown is the mission of Main Street,” says Janna Groharing, executive director of Sterling Main Street.  “$25,000 would be of great benefit to our program and its project list for improvements in the downtown. From our ongoing beautification efforts, to helping cover the costs of community programs such as Movies at Grandon, every dollar helps. $25,000 would be of huge benefit toward implementing our projects and events for this year and beyond.”

“The goal of this inaugural Independent We Stand ‘America’s Main Streets’ contest is to promote the importance and strong economic benefits of Main Streets and the small businesses that help them thrive,” says Independent We Stand co-founder Bill Brunelle. “We are so pleased to see how passionate people are about their Main Streets. It’s evident by the broad range of nominations we saw representing 44 states in the first round. Now, it’s time to rally and vote again for these terrific quarterfinalists.”

More than 150,000 votes were cast for 253 nominees during the nominations phase. The quarterfinalists in alphabetical order are:

Semifinalist voting begins May 2 at MainStreetContest.com and runs through May 29.

The winner of the 2016 “America’s Main Streets” contest will be announced June 3.

Contest prizes include:

  • $25,000 grand prize
  • STIHL Equipment Certificate for $1,000 worth of STIHL equipment good at any STIHL dealer in the U.S.
  • $500 Tire Pros certificate towards a set of Continental tires
  • $500 Do it Best Corp. shopping spree
  • $500 PPG Pittsburgh Paints shopping spree
  • Public relations and social media recognition
  • An Alignable small business social media “Neighborhood” on the site
  • Special plaque for winner to proudly display

For more information on Sterling Main Street, visit our website, www.sterlingmainstreet.org, or stop by the office at 318 First Avenue in Downtown Sterling, call 815. 626.8610, or email info@sterlingmainstreet.org.

Co-presenting Sponsors:

STIHL Inc., America’s number-one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment, is the founding sponsor of Independent We Stand and a co-presenting sponsor of America’s Main Streets contest. The company follows a unique distribution strategy in the handheld power equipment industry, choosing never to sell products at big box stores, but instead remaining loyal to its 9,000+ independent servicing dealers nationwide.

FCA US BusinessLink is an organization within FCA US LLC that encompasses the commercial dealer network, BusinessLink, as well as develops cost-of-doing-business reducing programs and valuable-to-business incentives for small business consumers. FCAWorkVehiclesUS.com is the destination for commercial vehicles, testimonials, current incentives, finding a local dealer and much more.

Supporting Sponsors:

About Sterling Main Street
Sterling Main Street, a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization, is a nationally accredited Main Street® program which utilizes the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach® to downtown revitalization.  This approach is based on a comprehensive strategy, tailored to local needs and opportunities in four broad areas:  Organization, Design, Economic Vitality and Promotion.

About Independent We Stand
Independent We Stand is a movement of independent business owners across the country dedicated to informing their communities about the importance of “Buying Local” and how these efforts bolster their local economy. This movement supports all local and national causes committed to boosting local economic development projects. The Independent We Stand movement is co-sponsored by STIHL Inc. and FCA US LLC. www.IndependentWeStand.org

Voting Link to Sterling’s profile:  http://mainstreetcontest.com/profile.php?id=96

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