Allerton concert series starts June 8

The Allerton Park and Retreat Center summer concert series has come a long ways since it was first introduced to Central Illinois music lovers in 2013. From enthusiastic crowds of a few hundred viewing mainly area artists, the event has grown five years later to boast Grammy winning artists, A band from Scotland for this year's IrishFest, and kicks off this Friday with Lupe Carroll, a finalist on television's “The Voice” who will present his bluesy, lyrically-charged pieces.

Opening for the Momence native will be indie-folk band Rebecca Rego & the Trainmen, who take the stage at 6 p.m. Carroll follows with a two-hour set beginning at 7 p.m.

Crowds have also grown, with the Gate House lawn topping out at 1,200 for the Irish Fest event.

Oh, and the park also took over the Allerton Music Barn Festival after it was dropped by the University of Illinois School of Music three years ago, incorporating it into the concert series.

“We're hoping to bring out some familiar faces and draw some new ones to grow our audience,” said Hannah Dole, Allerton's event coordinator. “We're taking what went well last year and trying to make it better.”

What went well was IrishFest, which has grown into the largest draw of the summer. This year it returns on Aug. 10. What has been tweaked are the dates for the multi-day Prairie Sky Music Festival, moved a few weeks later to Sept. 7-8 in order take advantage of cooler weather and to avoid the back to school rush.

Park officials also combined a pair of youth-oriented concerts that were held last year into one outing on Sept. 23.

“We strive to bring a variety of different musical acts from near and far for guests of all ages to enjoy,” added Dole. “It’s a great site – watching a crowd gather on the Gate House Lawn to eat, drink, converse, and enjoy wonderful music against this beautiful backdrop.”

Also featured this summer will be Grammy-Award-winning-artist Marty Stuart, who will close out the second Prairie Sky Music Festival on Sept. 7-8 in the Allerton meadow.

Song styles this Friday will range from mainstream rock and folk to Americana, and food will be available from Fusilli Tony's and Dragonfire Pizza.

Other notable groups this summer will include the Aug. 10 appearance of Scotland's Tannahill Weavers, whose music has been featured on soundtracks for “Brave” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” In addition, Grammy nominated John Primer and The Real Deal Blues Band will headline the Reds, Whites and the Blues on June 29.

The summer concert schedule includes:

June 8: 6 p.m. – Summer Kickoff Concert, Gate House Lawn. Featuring Rebeeca Rego & the Trainmen, Lupe Carroll. Suggested donation.

June 29: 6 p.m. – Reds, Whites, and the Blues, Gate House Lawn. Featuring Billy Galt and the Blues Deacons; John Primer and the Real Deal Blues Band. Suggested donation.

Aug. 10: 5:30 p.m. – Irish Fest on the Gate House Lawn. Featuring The Shanties, Tannahill Weavers. Suggested donation.

Sept. 7-8: Prairie Sky Music Festival presented by Lodgic in the Allerton Meadow. Featuring Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, The Barefoot Movement, Edward David Anderson, Fox Crossing String Band and other bands. Tickets are required. Camping will be available in the meadow.

Sept. 23: 2 p.m. – Kids' Concert. Details to be announced.

Sept. 27-30: Allerton Music Barn Festival in the Allerton Music Barn. Featuring the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by Lyric Theatre of Illinois, Jazz in Blue, and the University of Illinois Chamber Singers and orchestra. Tickets required.

Concert tips
–Bring a lawn chair and blankets.

–Gatehouse Lawn concerts begin at 6 p.m.

–There is a suggested donation except for the Prairie Sky and Music Barn festivals, which are ticketed events.

–Arrive early and walk through the Allerton formal gardens and natural areas.

–Concerts may be cancelled or postponed due to weather.

–Additional information is available at


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