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The District becomes hot spot for fun

Dispatch/Argus Photo By Terry Herbig

The District in downtown Rock Island is a happening place. It hosts a wide range of concerts and festivals each year, including Gumbo Ya-Ya, YaMaka My Weekend/Boonoonoonoos Caribbean festival, and The District Criterium Bike Races.

The Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District enjoys the exceptional reputation of being the place to go to eat, drink, gamble and have fun in the Quad-Cities.

The reputation, well deserved, grew in 1997 and is expected to take even larger strides in 1998.

``It was a great year for us,'' Jennifer Walker, director of marketing for The District, said. ``There was growth on all ends -- the kind of growth that will allow us to push forward in 1998.''

To say The District hopped in the past year would be an understatement.

In all, 10 festivals dot The District datebook from May to October (not all are District-sponsored events), making it one of the busiest night-and-day spots in the Quad Cities.

Festivals like Gumbo Ya-Ya, YaMaka My Weekend/Boonoonoonoos Caribbean cultural festival, Rhythm and Food and The District Criterium Bike Races all play to big crowds. The haunted house and laser-light show added to a special '97 and set the base for a successful '98.

The laser-light show -- over an eight-day span through Halloween -- offered 64 shows. The District's haunted house drew rave reviews, and last year's YaMaka My Weekend drew an estimated 22,000 people to downtown Rock Island.

Add to that a pair of new art studios, and the year was full of the prescribed arts and entertainment.

``The goal is to be as well-rounded as we possibly can, and I think we made solid steps in that direction,'' Ms. Walker said. ``We are not only about the nightlife, but about family-sponsored events, as well as bringing the area the arts.''

Added for 1998 is The District Gran Prix kart races, a major event in the world of professional karting. A new course design for the District Criterium also is on the books for 1998.

While 1997 was a success, you can expect 1998 to be even bigger in The District.

-- By John Marx (February 2, 1998)

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