Festivals help breathe new life into downtown

By Nate Johnson

Rockford’s Main Street District has welcomed over 2,500 people over the past two weekends, as crowds visited the corner of State and Main for the fifth annual Screw City Beer Festival (SCBF) and the first Kryptonite/Brovember Sausagefest, with hundreds more up the street at the Greenwich Village Art Fair.

The sold-out SCBF saw beer enthusiasts rewarded with perfect weather and over two hundred beers from over 50 national breweries, including Rockford’s Carlyle Brewing and Rockford Brewing Company and Machesney Park’s Pig Minds Brewing, as well as several well-received brews from the Forest City Brewers.

A half-dozen local vendors joined with Kryptonite to provide food and drink to help support Brovember, a local non-profit organization that promotes men’s cancer awareness. Once the smoke cleared, patrons selected the Irish Rose as Sausage King and Social took home the People’s Choice award.

“All these things stemmed from just wanting to have some fun activities to do,” said Kryptonite owner Chris Wachowiak.

“That it turned into something that benefitted men’s cancer awareness is great.”

The activities continue throughout the fall, as Kryptonite begins a Wednesday night early concert series.

The series, set with early start times to keep with the darkening days and earlier curfews, kicks off tonight with a 7:30 p.m. performance by the Caleb Klauder Country Band.

Away from downtown, the German Society of Rockford will be hosting their 51st annual Oktoberfest at Loves Park City Hall on October 2 and 3. Besides the obligatory traditional polka tunes, Miles Nielsen will perform on Saturday night.

The festivities come back to Main Street on October 22, as the Great Downtown Dog Walk returns from 5-10 p.m. with live music and plenty of dog-friendly events.

Besides supporting the downtown businesses, these activities help continue to build the community spirit. “

I think we are all so bombarded with information, it’s easy to think we support something because we ‘like’ it on Facebook, that we forget to show up and participate in our community,” says Kryptonite Events Director Liz Newman.

“Anyone that participates in a festival or block party, whether organizing or attending, is doing something that enriches Rockford. I hope that never stops.”

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