Janesville Arise

Downtown growth, community camaraderie the focus of Celebrate Janesville! event

Downtown growth, community camaraderie the focus of Celebrate Janesville! event
Source: GazetteXtra
October 3, 2019
By: Benjamin Pierce | bpierce@gazettextra

Downtown growth, community camaraderie the focus of Celebrate Janesville! event

Janesville, WI - As downtown Janesville continues to evolve, a new event this year hopes to celebrate the area’s growth through music, art and community.

Celebrate Janesville! will honor not only the city but also those who live in it, said event co-organizer Ben Johnston-Urey.

The family-focused music and arts festival runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the festival street at the ARISE Town Square.

“The point of the event is to foster positivity in Janesville,” Johnston-Urey said. “We want people of all ages to arrive as strangers and leave as neighbors. We want to allow people to experience downtown as a place of community, have fun, get engaged and make new friends.”


The event, sponsored by First Lutheran Church and the Downtown Janesville Business Improvement District, will feature food from numerous area vendors. Admission is free, and activities for kids including face painting, storytelling and more will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Emily Arthur, executive director for Downtown Janesville BID, said she hopes people come downtown to see how much growth is taking place. The district has sponsored numerous other events downtown in the past year.

“They’re really hoping to celebrate all of the buy-in in Janesville,” Arthur said of organizers. “It’s really cool to see a different group working on this and getting the people that are positive about this growth together downtown.”

The Gary McAdams Band will take the stage from 3 to 6 p.m. in an homage to local artists. The band will perform an icon show to celebrate musicians throughout Rock County. Some of these musicians will join the band on stage for performances while others will perform solo acts.

“We’re going to hear a huge variety because of all these iconic bands and musicians,” McAdams said. “We have everything from country to jazz to rock and swing, so that will be very cool.”

After working with Celebrate Janesville! to select a theme for the show, the band eventually settled on performing the icon show. There also will be three surprise inductions into the Rock County Music Hall of Fame during the show.

McAdams said most people might not have previously heard of some of the bands or performers because they have been retired or out of music for some time. He hopes people come check things out.


“People will get a huge variety of music played at an expert level,” he said. “Some of these people, even though they performed for decades, most of these people (in attendance) may have never heard of these guys.”

For all involved, the growth of downtown Janesville and a closer community is something to celebrate. Saturday’s event will do just that.

“We’re just really excited that they’re doing this and celebrating everything that has happened in the downtown area and everything that is to come,” Arthur said.

Johnston-Urey agreed.

“We hope folks leave with a feeling of well-being, their community, having had a great time and maybe having met some new folks and making new friends,” he said. “That would be a huge success in our book.”