Bruce Wineburner, city of Pekin’s events coordinator, has been on the job for only about a month, but he has been coordinating or helping coordinate outdoor events since the 1990s.

One of the changes Wineburner is planning for Pekin’s summer events schedule is to combine small, one-day activities into larger, weekend-long celebrations.

“What I’m trying to do is include all of the businesses in the two-day shutdown (of sections of Court Street),” he said. “Instead of spending the money on four individual (events), spend a little more money and make the June and August events bigger by changing the entertainment up and adding more stuff to them to make them longer events.”

Wineburner believes that police and city services for a two-day event will not cost much more than the same services cost for a one-day event. He added that a two-day event will give more area residents an opportunity to take in the festivities, particularly if inclement weather curtails attendance for one of the scheduled days.

“The way the services are done, the second day doesn’t really cost much,” he said. “Also, if a Friday night event rains out, you’ve still got Saturday.” 

The city will kick off downtown summer events with the Summer Block Party June 21 and 22. The section of Court Street between Rhythm and Brews, 513 Court, and Yesterday’s Bar and Grill, 363 Court, will be closed for the festivities.

“It’s going to be a summer street party,” said Wineburner. “The theme behind it is going to be bands, music and adult games out in the street. I’m trying to get the entertainment booked right now, but we’re either going to do a band on Friday night and a DJ on Saturday, or a band on Saturday and a DJ on Friday.”

In July, the city will combine two events: Bike Night and a cruise-in, into one SuperCruise Weekend, according to Wineburner. On July 26, motorcycle enthusiasts will have a chance to show off their own “steel horses” and admire those of their fellow aficionados. The cruise-in, slated for July 27, will feature displays of antique and classic cars, essentially converting downtown into a 1950s-style drive-in. A Family, Food and Fun Weekend, scheduled for Aug. 16 and 17, will include food vendors and live entertainment. The Pekin Bathtub Races, which debuted last summer, will be incorporated into the weekend’s revelry.

“I’m trying to put together some sort of a food cook-off to get some local businesses involved and turn (the Bathtub Races) into more of a food and drink event,” Wineburner said. “Maybe bring in some craft beers and other things to mix that one up from the (Summer Block Party).”

Wineburner is also planning to schedule an event in September similar to the Family Fun Night traditionally held before the Marigold Festival. He has not yet determined the precise nature of the event or when in September he intends to offer it.

Wineburner has also made contact with downtown business owners to discuss the possibility of bringing in more live entertainment on weekends. Having previously worked for the Peoria Park District as site manager for RiverFront park, he believes Pekin is not using its own riverfront to maximum advantage.

“They’ve got a nice area down there (at Pekin Riverfront Park),” said Wineburner. “There’s nice green space, and there’s that gazebo. What I’d like to be able to do, and this comes down to like anything else right now, budget money and trying to find some sponsors and some groups to support. But, similar to Peoria, we used to do jazz on Thursday nights, and we’d run it for about seven weeks. It would run from June to the middle of July. Stuff like that, I think, would go well on the riverfront: a Wednesday night jazz night, or a Wednesday night bluegrass night, or maybe a Wednesday night of local bands. (I hope) to turn (the riverfront) into more of an activity area where people know they can come down here on certain nights and know there’s hopefully something going on.”

Wineburner hopes downtown activities will help promote a part of Pekin he believes to be under appreciated and will also help local businesses.

“Pekin’s got a nice downtown area,” he said. “They just don’t realize it. If you get people to start coming downtown, I think it’s going to be good for all the businesses, and it’s not bad getting in and out of here.”