July 30, 2014

Get ready for big crowds at Belleville's bicentennial bash

The city's bicentennial celebration in September will draw the biggest crowds ever to the Public Square, event organizers told downtown businesses at a meeting on Tuesday.

Belleville 200 committee members met with a group of about 25 business owners at City Hall to share logistical information and answer questions.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert urged businesses to help promote and raise money for the event that promises to be a "money maker" for downtown merchants.

"You'll have more people at your fingertips, outside your doors and on your sidewalks than ever before," Eckert said.

The committee expects the event to attract residents interested in German historical events from across southern Illinois and other states, and to bring back residents who used to live in Belleville.

Business owners asked about portable toilets (there will be 85); how they can stay informed in case of an emergency during the event (sign up for Hyper-Reach); and how to minimize impact to regular customers visiting stores or restaurants (organizers will keep alleys and some parking spots clear).

"We want to do as much as we can to be customer and community friendly during the celebration," Eckert said.

Basic information

The free event honoring the city's 200th anniversary is Sept. 19-21, the weekend of Oktoberfest.

Main Street will be closed from Third Street on the west end to Charles Street on the east end, and a block north and south on Illinois Street from the Public Square.

There will be no parking in those areas starting at noon on Thursday, Sept. 18.

Festivities are from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Highlights include a naturalization ceremony of about 100 people; visitors from Belleville's sister city of Paderborn, Germany; musical entertainment on three stages, including a performance by the Beach Boys; and a world-record attempt to grill a 200-foot long bratwurst.

The event also will include a Civil War re-enactment, petting zoo, rides and more.

Do's and don'ts

* Organizers said business owners should plan on being well-stocked and well-staffed for the event.

* Organizers also asked that businesses have their employees park further away to leave public parking spots for visitors.

* Shuttles will likely be available for those coming from the MetroLink lot and from Westhaven and Central Junior High schools.

*A drop-off area at High and Washington streets will be designated for seniors and the disabled.

* Businesses will not be allowed to set up and sell from beer trucks, popcorn machines or the like on public sidewalks.

How to help

The Belleville 200 committee has about 200 tickets left for a Belleville 200 night at the St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs game at 7:15 p.m. Aug. 29.

The committee is trying to reach a goal of 1,000 tickets.

Tickets are $40 each for sections 229 through 235.

Mayor Mark Eckert will throw out the first pitch at the game.

For more information, visit or call 233-6769.

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