The end of the year is quickly approaching, making it the perfect time to reflect on the Top 23 wins in the Rockford region in 2023! We should all be proud of the great city we live in!

In no particular order, below are the Top 23 Wins in Rockford in 2023!

Stroll 2023 Fireworks

1. Rockford Celebrates 11th Annual Stroll on State
Rockford celebrated the 11th annual Stroll on State, presented by Illinois Bank & Trust, in downtown Rockford on Saturday, November 25. It was a magical day filled with larger-than-life parade balloons, amazing musical performances, visits from Santa, fire & ice, a real-life snow globe experience, ice skating, hot cocoa, Dasher Dash, Merry Market and so much more!

Louise Z Mural

2.Ten New CRE8IV Murals Were Painted
CRE8IV: transformational art returned for its fourth season. CRE8IV has delivered 43 murals to the area and added nine more this year!

  • “A Bouquet That Does Not Wilt” by Louise “Ouizi” Jones. Located at 202 W. State Street, Rockford, IL
  • A bold geometric mural by Chase Melendez. Located at 308 W. State Street, Rockford, IL
  • “Together We Can Do So Much More Than We Could as Individuals” by Ohya Studio. Located at 810 E. State Street, Rockford, IL
  • “Mirrored Bridge” by Anthony Lewellen. Located at 3117 Auburn St, Rockford, IL
  • Veteran’s Memorial Circle mural by AJ Davis. Located at 1436 N. Main Street, Rockford, IL
  • “Synchrony” by Dustin Eckhardt. Located at 122 S. Prairie Street, Rockton, IL
  • “Growth & Transformation” by Jesse Melanson. Located at 4618 E. State Street, Rockford, IL
  • “Coevolution” by Jhonattan Arango. Located at 1125 N. 2nd Street, Rockford, IL
  • Art Alley, a collection of mini murals by Jenny Mathews, Dustin Eckhardt, Asia Peters, and Brett Whitacre. Located at 316 W. State Street, Rockford, IL
  • Detailed and vibrant guard rails and retaining wall by Anthony Lewellen. Located at 4802 Auburn Street, Rockford, IL

3. Victory Pickleball Opened
Victory Pickleball opened a 54,00 square-foot facility with 15 indoor courts. This center is the only dedicated indoor pickleball facility in the region and one of the largest in the country. Located at 7003 N. Alpine Road, Loves Park, IL

GFNY '23

4. GFNY Came to Town
The internationally known Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) cycling marathon made its way to Rockford on August 6. The event drew more than 200 cyclists and 300 fans from 17 states and 20 countries. Cyclists completed either a 60 or 100-mile course through the Rockford region, including area preserves.

5. RACVB Launched its First Art Trail and Pizza Hop Passports
RACVB unveiled the Rockford Pizza Hop and Rockford Art Trail mobile passports this year. The Art Trail allows users to use geo-location services to find public art near them. There are more than 100 public murals and substantial works of permanent and temporary sculptures on the Art Trail.

The Pizza Hop Trail was designed to encourage visitors and residents to explore local businesses and offerings in the Rockford region. The carefully crafted pizzeria and brewery trail provides enthusiasts with the opportunity to savor a wide range of pizza styles while enjoying locally crafted brews.

6. SOAR Awards Soared to New Heights
The 6th Annual SOAR Awards were held at the Coronado Theatre on March 6, featuring major gospel stars. The event spurred an estimated $215,000 in economic activity and continued to solidify Rockford’s reputation in the gospel community.

7. Discovery Center Opened Makerspace
In 2023, Discovery Center opened Makerspace, combining playful learning and tinkering. The new Makerspace encourages children and families to come together to create and invent utilizing both science and art. The space is made possible with support from Collins Aerospace.

8. Rockford Hosted Four Dia De Los Muertos Events
Rockford organizers brought together and celebrated Mexican traditions during late October and early November.

  • The Ethnic Heritage Museum hosted a communitywide Ofrenda Build-Up
  • UW Health Sports Factory hosted Dia De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead Community Event
  • Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens hosted Noche de Calaveras and Dia de los Muertos Family Event

​9. BMO Center Renovated
The BMO Center in downtown Rockford renovated and made improvements in 2023. New admin offices, new escalators, revamped south end zone upper club, new scoreboard, suite level roof repairs, a refresh of club lounge, club boxes and suites, improved sound system, building wide Wi-Fi and more were some of the renovations they made!

Synchro Skating

10. Synchronized Skating Championships Return
Rockford was a host city for the 2023 Synchronized Skating championships, January 23-29. The event attracted more than 170 teams with 2,100 skaters ranging from 6 to 70 years old. The event generated more than $2.1M of economic impact to the region.

11. Rockford Region Restaurant Week Was a Success
Rockford hosted its annual Restaurant Week, January 31 – February 6. There were flavorful specials for all palates. The following businesses won awards!

Best Bite – The Norwegian

Best Atmosphere & Vibes – Ernie’s Midtown Pub

Best Restaurant Week Package – Alchemy at Aldeen Supper Club

Best Cocktail or Brew – 8th Ward Pub

Best for All – Lino’s

Juneteenth pic 3

12. Juneteenth Rockford, the longest running Juneteenth celebration in Illinois
Juneteenth celebrated its 33rd year in Rockford! It was a community celebration that uniquely blended history and art and welcomed all to learn more about the history and heritage of Juneteenth. The two-day event was a huge success in 2023!

13. Rockford Celebrated Rockford Day
Rockford Day, celebrated on August 15 (8-15), was a wonderful day! Residents celebrated the city, supported local businesses, and attended fun events including a lunch party in downtown Rockford. Residents were invited to complete random acts of kindness throughout the day. There were 815 random acts of kindness cards located throughout Rockford.

14. RACVB Awarded Grant Funding to Complete a Regional Destination Master Plan
The Regional Destination Master Plan will serve to revitalize the tourism economy in our region as well as provide a path forward to create a more resilient tourism economy for our future. Both RACVB and the Belvidere Chamber of Commerce were awarded grant funding by the US and Illinois Departments of Commerce. Both organizations held the first of a series of events going over the results of the survey that was answered by more than 2,000 citizens.

15. Forest City Beautiful Adds 21 New Planters to the City
RACVB’s Forest City Beautiful initiative added 21 large new flower planters around the city. This is just one more way RACVB is working to make the central city a more attractive and inviting place.

16. Tough Mudder Returned to Rockford
More than 10,000 people and thousands of spectators gathered at the Chicago Rockford International Airport for the 8th annual Tough Mudder competition. Ninety percent of participants came from outside the region, bringing in more than $1 million dollars to the Rockford region.

17. Rockford Launched its Downtown Entertainment District
The Downtown Entertainment District was launched in 2023! The innovative concept allows residents and visitors aged 21+ to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere while savoring their favorite beverages from participating bars and restaurants. Individuals can now sip on a refreshing beer, wine, or cocktail in designated branded cups as they explore clearly marked areas in the downtown River District.

18. Embassy Suites Partnered with Midway Village to Unveil Rockford Historical Displays
In 2023, RACVB announced a partnership between Embassy Suites Rockford and Midway Village Museum to launch a Rockford themed memorabilia exhibit inside the Embassy Suites. The exhibit is housed inside four display cases and tells stories of Rockford’s rich past. Featured historical artifacts include items from Rockford Peaches, sock monkeys, Amerock and downtown Rockford.

19. Wheelchair Rugby Hosted at UW Health Sports Factory
Eighteen teams competed in the United States Wheelchair Rugby Association National Championship, hosted by Oscar Mike Foundation. The event ran April 28-30 and brought in 500 attendees and an estimated economic impact of $244,000.

20. USA Women’s Baseball Team Makes Historic Visit to Rockford
TEAM USA made its first trip to Beyer Stadium in Rockford in August. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Rockford Peaches.

21. NAFA Midwest Nationals Returned to Rockford
Approximately 120 teams made up of female players from 8 to 18 competed in the North American Fastpitch Association, July 12 – 16. More than 1,800 players, coaches and spectators traveled to the region. The tournament generated more than $610,000 in estimated economic impact.

22. Rock River Regatta Made a Splash
In October, Rock River Regatta returned to the Rock River for a one-day rowing event. The popular event brought in 5,000 spectators.

23. Rockford Welcomed USA Wrestling Nationals
On June 6-10, more than 1,200 athletes from 26 different states competed in the USA Wrestling 16U National Dual Championships. The event featured competition in the two Olympic styles of wrestling, freestyle and Greco-Roman. It produced more than $3.1M in economic impact.

Oh what a year we had! We can’t wait to see what 2024 brings to the Rockford region!