Arts, Culture, and Events

Movies at Grandon

The City of Sterling hosted the first annual outdoor summer movie program in 2012.  This program continues to provide the community a family-friendly activity.  This event is held in Central Memorial Park in Sterling at the Grandon Ampitheater.  The movies are family-friendly and free to all!  The movies are shown on Tuesday nights at dusk throughout the summer.  There are concessions such as drinks, popcorn, hot dogs, and desserts available to purchase at the showings.   
For information regarding sponsorship, advertising or concession opportunities for your organization please contact Janna Groharing at Sterling Main Street 815-626-8610 or

Sterling Main Street -  Movies at Grandon 2020

The 2020 Movie season has been cancelled due to COVID-19

Stay tuned for 2021 Movies and dates to be announced.

In case of storms, we will reschedule the movie. Notice will be posted on Facebook and the City website as well as reported to local media. 


History of Music in Sterling

Sterling Grandon Civic Center
Sterling Grandon Civic Center


The Sterling Silver Cornet Band was active in the 1850s. The band participated in the first Republican Rally to be held in Whiteside County on July 18, 1856. The main orator was Abraham Lincoln. The next band organized was the Keystone Band, sponsored by Keystone Manufacturing in the late 1870s. This band was rated the best in Illinois in a contest held in Dixon. The band was under the direction of John Kadel for 21 years. Kadel also directed the 6th Regimental Band of Illinois at the time of the Spanish-American War.

Sterling Municipal Band - Sterling, Illinois

The Sterling Municipal Band was organized and first directed by Jake Hitzelberger, a former circus band director, around the turn of the century.  Mr. Hitzelberger played Taps at the burial of his predecessor, John Kadel.

The Dedication Ceremony

The band shell was dedicated on July 20, 1938.

A concert was presented by seven area school bands. The bands were as follows: St. Mary’s band, J.J. Richards; Milledgeville, Ralph Fahrney; Wallace school, K.M. Bailey; Chadwick, W.R. Fuller; Polo, Henry W. Burch; Sterling, Gunner Benson; Morrison, Henry W. Burch.

That evening a dinner was hosted by the Sterling-Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce, followed by the Mendelssohn Treble Clef Chorus of Sterling, directed by Mrs. Muriel Phelps. The dedication exercises that followed were opened by the playing of Mr. Richards' latest march, “Salute to Sterling” dedicated to Mr. Grandon in recognition to his great service to the city of Sterling. Mr. Grandon personally presented the Civic Center to the city of Sterling. Mayor W.E. Long accepted the center for the city and expressed the appreciation of the whole community for Mr. Grandon’s generous gift.

The Sterling Municipal Band’s concert that evening included vocal selections by Dora Andreas Wiles and the following list of guest conductors: Capt. H.C. Bronson, director of the 129th Illinois Infantry Band; Joe Bergeim, Milwaukee; Henry Restorff, composer and soloist with the Gilmore Band; Ray Dvorak, Director of the University of Wisconsin Bands; A.R. McCallister, Joliet; Karl King, world famous composer; Clate Chenette, Ames Iowa.

Please visit the Sterling Municipal Band's website for more information and up-to-date schedules.

Midway Drive-In and Diner

The Midway Drive-In opened in 1950 in Sterling, and has been in continuous operation ever since. The Midway Drive-In is a genuine historical landmark as it is home to the oldest standing Drive-In screen in Illinois. It is dedicated to preserving this Dixon and Sterling historical landmark and paying tribute to the American tradition of the Drive-In Theatre.  From the classic retro “spaceship” ticket booth, to the Playground for the kiddies in front of the screen, to the full service concession stand, a trip to the Midway is like entering a time capsule to the 1950’s.

The spacious Midway Drive-In parking lot can hold up to 500 cars. The Midway screen is a GIANT 90 feet across, giving a massive film presentation. After dusk, the stars can clearly be seen, and depending on the weather, major star constellations (such as the Big Dipper) may be visible. There is nothing more beautiful than watching a film under the stars.

One thing has changed at the Midway, and that is the sound format. Gone are the old “in car” speakers. Now the sound is transmitted to your car via FM stereo. Just tune your car or portable radio to 91.3 FM and you will receive the sound in dynamic FM stereo.

The Midway Diner has a classic self serve Drive-In design and offers a full restaurant menu including Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, Hot Dogs, Corn Dogs, Nachos, Candy, Ice Cream, French Fries, Onion Rings, Fried Cheese Sticks, Pizza, Cotton Candy, a wide variety of Soda, and of course, Popcorn! Just grab a tray and serve yourself! Our friendly staff will be more than happy to assist you.

You can have a seat in one of our classic restaurant booths or “carry out” your Midway Diner meals or snacks to the patio or back to your car.

Please visit the Midway's website, Facebook, or Twitter

Mexican Fiesta Days

Fiesta Days held in the Sterling/Rock Falls communities began in the 1940s to celebrate Mexico's Independence Day.  The Mexican Fiesta in Sterling and Rock Falls every September honors the Latin American heritage brought to the Midwest by generations of immigrants.  Each 16th of September in Mexico, at the stroke of midnight, the president, governors and mayors re-enact the Grito de Dolores, the Call for Independence first proclaimed by Padre Miguel Hidalgo in 1810. The holiday is celebrated as close to the 16th as practical.  The  Fiesta Day parade is the only parade that spans the Rock River ...Great food, entertainment, dance, and see the Fiesta Day Queen be crowned!

Most events take place at the Latin American Social Club, 2708 W. Lincolnway, Sterling, IL  61081.  Fore more information, please contact the Sauk Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Seasonal Sights and Sounds

Seasonal Sights & Sounds is the City of Sterling’s kick off to the holiday season.  The Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and Sterling Main Street collaborate to bring you several days of festivities, including a Downtown Christmas Walk, Holiday Parade, Community Concert and more!

For more information about these holiday events, contact the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce at 815-625-2400, by email or please visit the Sterling Main Street.

The Sterling Mural Society

20 Years….seems like forever, yet not so long ago, that blank canvases of brick came to life to tell the story of Sterling, Illinois – its earliest settlers, scenes from its past, important moments in history that make Sterling the great community it is today.

Now under the umbrella of Sterling Main Street, the Sterling Mural Society marked a significant milestone in 2015 – 20 years of murals decorating our downtown.  A 20th Mural, “Lincoln in Sterling,” was installed to mark the occasion.

Fundraising activities are ongoing for mural maintenance funds. Donations to the Sterling Mural Society may be mailed in care of Sterling Main Street, P.O. Box 261, Sterling, Illinois.   For more information please contact Sterling Main Street at 815-626-8610.

Woodlawn Arts Academy

Woodlawn Arts Academy is located at 3807 Woodlawn Road in Sterling. A facility of the Dillon Foundation, the Woodlawn Arts Academy was built for quality, safety and efficiency and designed for the pursuit and celebration of the arts. The Academy provides special lighting for optimum visibility when creating visual artwork, soundproof rooms of the highest quality for music lessons, a specialized floor in the dance studio to protect dancers’ joints, an environmentally friendly geothermal heating system, the J. Mark Beaty Performance Center for putting on plays and recitals, and much more!  Visit the facility, visit their website, and find Woodlawn on Facebook and Twitter to see all they have to offer!