Major events coming to town

The Illinois Women’s Bowling Association 75th Anniversary State Tournament will be Saturday through May 16 at Don Carter Lanes and Forest Hills Lanes.

The 25th and 50th tournaments were held here, too, and Rockford will be host for the 10th time.

More than 8,000 bowlers will participate over the 12 weekends of the tourney. The Rockford Women’s Bowling Association will be the sponsor.

It is one of five events the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is helping to bring here. Together, they could bring more than $3 million into the area between now and October, said John Groh, visitors bureau spokesman. The other events:

• Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation State Tournament, March 11-13 at the MetroCentre.

• Northern Plains Kids Regional Wrestling Championship with Girls Freestyle, June 16-19 at the MetroCentre.

• United States Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships, June 25-30 at Sportscore I and Sportscore II.

• NAACP Illinois State Conference, Oct. 1-3 at the Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center and Ramada Plaza Suites.

In addition, at least two big softball tournaments will be held on fields operated by Harlem Community Center, with some spillover to the Forest Hills softball complex.

Last year, the visitors bureau promoted four big events with an estimated impact of $2.4 million. Those included Harley-Davidson’s 100th Anniversary Ride in August and the Illinois Kids Wrestling State Championship.

Tourism, which includes events like the five in 2004, brought $230 million into Winnebago County in 2002, according to the visitors bureau. The recent peak was $303 million in 2000.

For comparison, Rock County, Wis., just across the border from Winnebago County, collected $244.6 million from tourism in 2002. Walworth County ranked seventh in Wisconsin in tourism income, bringing in an estimated $408.4 million.

Wisconsin counties ranked as the top tourism dollar winners (and their tourism earnings for 2002) were: Milwaukee, $1.6 billion; Dane (Madison), $1.02 billion; Sauk (Wisconsin Dells), $856.2 million; Waukesha (near Milwaukee), $625.5 million; Door, $449.2 million; and Brown (Green Bay), $440.7 million.

Domestic travelers spent nearly $20.8 billion in Illinois during 2001 and these travel expenditures directly generated 289,300 jobs in Illinois. Illinois ranks fifth in traveler spending among the states.

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