About Rockin’ Robbins
In 2014, the two Rotary Clubs of Willmar came together to discuss the possibility of a joint Community Service Project. The goal was to address a key strategy that had been defined by the Vision 2040 group — to develop and revitalize Robbins Island.
Inspired by the success of Summertime by George, a free outdoor concert series presented by the Rotary Club of St. Cloud, we aimed to create the same kind of excitement in Willmar. With leadership and guidance from the St. Cloud club, we formulated a plan to create a similar outdoor concert series that would showcase the potential of Robbins Island Park, and help raise money for its future development.
We kicked off our inaugural season in 2016 with two outdoor concerts – the Fabulous Armadillos, and Justin Ploof and the Throwbacks. Our goal was simply to break even in our first year, but with amazing support from our Sponsors and the Willmar community, we were able to raise over $20,000 in proceeds which we donated to the “Friends of Robbins Island Fund” for the construction of the new Willmar Playground.
In 2017, we doubled our efforts, hosting four outdoor concerts and raising over $38,000 for ongoing improvements at Robbins Island Regional Park. In 2018, we had perfect weather for all four concerts, resulting in record attendance and over $74,000 in proceeds for ongoing improvements at Robbins Island Regional Park.
Also in 2017, our two Rotary clubs had so much fun working together on this joint Community Service Project, we decided to merge into one club. Effective July 1, 2017, we are now the bigger, better Willmar Rotary Club!
Along with an in-kind donation from Quick Signs in Willmar and matching grants from the Rotary Clubs of St. Cloud, Litchfield, Monticello and Springfield, our 2017 and 2018 proceeds were used to construct a beautiful new entrance to Robbins Island, including a lighted welcome sign, flagpole, tree plantings, and a landscaped perennial garden. Additionally, we donated $5,000 to the new Celebrate the Light of the Word holiday light display at Robbins Island. (Our Willmar Rotary Club also donated $5,000, for a total club contribution of $10,000.)
It was another incredible year for Rockin’ Robbins 2019, and thanks to perfect weather for the second year in a row, we were able to surpass all previous attendance records! With crowds averaging between 3,000-5,000 each week and continued strong support from our Willmar business community, the Willmar Rotary Club raised over $82,000 during our 2019 concert series!
Proceeds continue to support improvements at Robbins Island, as well as other Rotary initiatives. In 2019 and 2020, our Rotary club, once again, donated $10,000 each year to the spectacular Celebrate the Light of the Word holiday light display at Robbins Island. In the summer of 2020, we also saw the completion of the new four-season shelter that was built with Super Bowl Legacy Funds, and during the spring and summer of 2021, we saw construction of the new road, parking lots, and shelters funded by the Local Option Sales Tax.
If all goes as planned – we hope to use our future Rockin’ Robbins proceeds to build a permanent concert stage!
In 2018 and 2019, the Willmar Rotary Club was presented with a district-level Rotary Service Award at the Rotary District 5950 annual conference. We are so proud of this project, and all the support we receive from our awesome community!
Visit us at WillmarRotary.org to learn more about Rotary, or to inquire about joining our club.