Somewhat like a circus train, vehicles carrying the road crew, equipment, stage hands and others on tour with today’s Tim McGraw concert rolled into town before dawn.
Before 7 a.m. today at Illinois Valley Regional Airport, two Peru police officers were helping direct seven semis filled with equipment and eight tour buses to an unloading zone near the stage under construction.
Chuck Studer, airport manager, was visiting with a production manager who was tired after getting just three hours of sleep.
McGraw sang on television on the Fourth of July in New York and was in Milwaukee last night. Studer said he believes McGraw will fly out of the airport after the Concert for A Cause today. Tickets still are available for the concert, which is a benefit for March of Dimes.
This afternoon, police, signs and volunteers will direct Plank Road traffic to the airport. Steve Michelini, a landowner and farmer near the airport, said he believes the concert organizers and city of Peru have 30 acres available for parking at the airport. (Michelini was harvesting wheat near Plank Road this morning, and then, by request from John Deere, was parking huge farm implements near the airport.)
This morning, concert promoter Merry Noonan confirmed all the parking is supposed to be at or near the airport.
Noonan said tickets will be available at the gate. The promoter said she has only had one concert out of 18 — REO Speedwagon — rained out, but often has had to deal with rain before, during or after concerts.
Noonan said she wonders if some music fans and Concerts for a Cause supporters were holding off on getting tickets until seeing the weather report.
As of 8 a.m. today, Accuweather’s hourly forecast (accessible via www.newstrib.com) showed sun all day and evening with partly cloudy conditions after sunset. Accuweather, however, showed a slight chance of a brief 4 p.m. thunderstorm, with conditions clearing if a summer storm should pop up.
The gate opens at 4 pm., with Love and Theft scheduled to take the stage two to 2½ hours later and McGraw to appear near dusk.
The airport will be open for air traffic all day, Studer said. The concert crowd and stage all are in the northeast quadrant of the city property and at the north end of the apron near the north hangars. Barricades separate the crowd and concert from the working airport. Some barricades in the middle of the landing strip area near a taxiway and the runway have nothing to do with the concert; they mark the spot of some concrete that’s curing and are remnants of an FAA-funded improvement project that started in April and will be basically complete Monday, Studer said. The airport expanded and strengthened the apron to allow for parking of larger aircraft than typically fly in and out of Peru.