WILMINGTON — It takes a lot of time and effort for a rock band to become an “overnight” sensation.
That’s also true when it comes to transforming a small city and county into a burgeoning regional music and family entertainment capital.
And in year #3 of that process, 2020 promises to be even bigger than the past two years.
The Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau works to ensure the success of annual favorite events such as the Banana Split Festival, Jeep Jam, and the Nowhere Else Festival.
But they also include are involved in events such as the brand-new Country Invasion and Wilmington College’s 150th anniversary celebration (which begins in the fall).
Susan Valentine-Scott, Executive Director of the CVB, told the News Journal this year’s Rock the Block is going to be a lot bigger than previous ones.
“In just a short three years we have grown this thing. We actually have the City (of Wilmington) on board now doing some sponsorship,” said Valentine-Scott.
This year’s Rock the Block will include a kick-off Friday, July 24 on Sugartree Street involving Tin Cap and The Escape.
“We’re starting to branch out to all the different businesses to help the economic development part of it,” said Valentine-Scott.
Then on Saturday, July 25, things will kick off at 2 p.m. with free performances outdoors by Quiet Riot, Dirty Deeds: Extreme AC/DC, Pink Velvet Krush, and Atomic Jimmy (a Van Halen tribute act).
The night ends with a bang inside the Murphy Theatre with Winger and Autograph (tickets are available at themurphytheatre.org).
As for the newer events, one of them is the 150th anniversary of Wilmington College on Sept. 25.
The celebration will see Main Street closed down, a beer tent erected, food vendors, and a performance from A Boston Experience, featuring two of the legendary rock band Boston’s former members — Fran Cosmo and Barry Goudreau.
The Cincinnati-based band Vinyl Countdown will be the opening act for the celebration. Two of its members, Celia Griffin and SJ Turner, are Wilmington College graduates.
The debut of Country Invasion — a two-day event at the Clinton County Fairgrounds — begins June 5 hosted by the Clinton County Agricultural Society. Country Invasion replaces their annual spring tractor pull — though Valentine-Scott indicated there would still be a tractor pull.
The new event will see a Kansas City BBQ Cook-Off Contest, games, and a live performance from Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry.
“I think we’re well-known now,” said Valentine-Scott, in regards to the big acts coming to Wilmington. “Especially with Rock the Block. I have national acts calling me wanting to be a part of it. I’m already working on 2021.”
And Valentine-Scott and the CVB aren’t content; they’re looking to grow even more into 2021 as Clinton County becomes an entertainment destination for the region and beyond.
“Collaborations and the excitement have been essential to the growth, and we hope to continue building bridges and working on others,” she said.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574