First Friday opening for Olive Oil Experience

By Nate Johnson

As if there isn’t enough to do in the River District on First Fridays, the Olive Oil Experience is officially celebrating their downtown location’s grand opening this Friday in a big way.

From 7-9 p.m. they will be hosting the party of the night at 328 E. State St. featuring samplings of their high-quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars, artisan chocolates from Melanie’s Country Confections, beer tastings from Rockford Brewing Company and live music by the Lone Canary.

Brandi and Charles Ducharme.
Brandi and Charles Ducharme.

Opening their first location at 6340 E. Riverside Blvd. in September of 2011, owners Charles and Brandi Ducharme quickly carved out a niche offering a wide array of gourmet items for local food-lovers.  Besides their selection of over 50 extra virgin olive oils and balsamics from across the world, the shelves at both locations are filled with pastas, salsas, hot sauces and a menagerie of spices that will satisfy any palate.

The Ducharmes got their toes wet downtown by hosting a booth at Rockford City Market during the latter half of the 2014 season, and the downtown location opened on November 28, just in time for one of Rockford’s biggest nights out.

“We opened on Black Friday, just in time for Stroll on State, which was amazing for us,” said Charles.

“We really like the direction downtown Rockford is headed with new businesses opening and all the events happening.”

The store’s current plan is to continue to focus on their olive oil and vinegars with an eye open for new unique artisan gourmet products and are hoping to be a full-time vendor at City Market this year.

If you’re out and about for First Friday, be sure to set aside some time to enjoy some of the city’s finest treats, listen to live music and wish Charles and Brandi continued success with both locations!

To pay the Experience a virtual visit, go to or

For a full list of First Friday events, check out

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