Mumford and Sons Goes to Dixon and Brings 15,000 Fans, Doubling the Town's Population: How it Happened
Josh Albrecht is riding through downtown Dixon, addressing the strained trash can situation, directing volunteers to the beer tent and generally attempting to address the endless questions headed his way. A young couple flags down his cart.
Sarah Myers Mumford and Sons welcoming the crowd to Dixon, Illinois
"Excuse me," she says. "Where is the shuttle to the free parking?"
"All the shuttles meet in the high school cafeteria parking lot," says Albrecht. Then, as he gets a blank stare in response and realizes that's not going to help, "Are you folks from Dixon?"
They aren't. Neither are most of the rest of the thousands milling the small city's historic downtown on Saturday morning, drinking bloody marys and spilling out of the independent bookstore. They're here for the Mumford and Sons Gentlemen of the Road Stopover - one of four in the British folk titan's Quixotic pop-up festival series this summer.
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Dixon is a town of 16,000 situated 100 miles directly west of Chicago and 250 miles north of St. Louis. The town made headlines early this year when the Municipal Comptroller was indicted for the suspected embezzlement of an estimated $53 million. Dixon is also the childhood home of Ronald Regan - a fact commemorated with fervor to rival Springfield, Illinois' Lincoln pride. It's the birthplace of John Deere, and it's where a young Charles R. Walgreen got his first experience working in a drug store.
Josh Albrect is the Executive Director of Dixon Main Street. He's lived in the town for the past six years and grew up not too far away. Early this year, he got a request from the National Trust Main Street to apply for a "major band tour of historic towns." He did not know the band then or at any point in the application process. "No matter what, I wanted to host it," he says.