Walldogs invade Kewanee

By WEEK Producer

July 11, 2013 Updated Jul 12, 2013 at 4:36 PM CDT

KEWANEE, Ill. -- Dick Bohrer traveled all the way from the northeastern edge of Minnesota with a paint brush in his hand.

"It helps out the community, plus its kind of fun to get together with your fellow sign painters. We've developed friendships over the years," said Bohrer.

Known to his friends as The Colonel, Bohrer is a Walldog. More than 200 of them have invaded Kewanee this week to paint 15 murals as part of downtown revitalization project.

"I'm hoping it brings a lot of tourism to town because our town is absolutely beautiful," said Dianne Packee, co-chair of the event. "It's going to be even better because everybody is helping out with the landscaping, the clean up, the murals. It's going to be awesome."

A Walldog is a sign artist whose canvas is the wall of a building. Nancy Bennett founded the group over 20 years ago when she was commissioned to paint a mural in the small town of Allerton, Iowa.

When it was finished...

"Have you seen the movie Field of Dreams, where the cars just start driving up? We could see cars with the headlights on coming into town and we knew it was something special," said Bennett.

The Walldogs take on one project each year in a different town. They are all volunteers who come from all across the country. It's up to the residents of the town to house and feed them all week and the murals they paint have historic local significance.

"I imagine the most prominent mural, historically, would be the Kewanee Boiler Company mural. Kewanee Boiler produced boilers from 1892 to 2002," said Larry Lock, director of the Kewanee Historical Society Museum.

Kewanee is also painting the town red with a full schedule of entertainment and activities that continue through Sunday.

As a side note the Illinois Director of Tourism on Thursday awarded Dianne Packee with the Illinois Office of Tourism Lincoln Award for making the state a world class destination for travelers to enjoy.