Focus Rockford opens photo competition

Rockford-area photographers are invited to submit their work for the first Focus Rockford photo competition, the beginning of a program that will include public displays of winning work and a beautification project in the city.

Photographers will compete in an open category in the first year with a theme of “The Best of Rockford.” Three winners will receive cash prizes. Their work, along with nine other finalists, will be displayed at a Nov. 2 event at Prairie Street Brewhouse.

The goal of Focus Rockford is to show off a positive image of Rockford while raising funds that will make a lasting impression in the city. Rockford resident Brian Wallheimer, a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad, is organizing the contest and program with several local partners, including the Rockford Area Arts Council. The council will help determine the focus of a beautification project to be done in the spring of 2018.

“There is so much beauty in Rockford that we either don’t recognize or that we take for granted. This is a chance to show that off through the arts, including the images captured during the contest and the project that we’ll organize the next spring,” Wallheimer said.

Focus Rockford will auction framed prints of the winning entries. But before going to their new homes, the photos will be displayed at local institutions and businesses.

Attendees at the unveiling and awards program Nov. 2 at Prairie Street Brewhouse will have the opportunity to purchase prints and a calendar of winning photos on site. These items will be available just in time for the holiday gift season.

Rockford Area Arts Council is working with Focus Rockford to determine a public beautification project to fund with the program’s proceeds. Early ideas include a public mural, but anyone with suggestions is encouraged to reach out to Focus Rockford or the RAAC.

“Focus Rockford is a great complement to events that surround RAAC’s 30th anniversary,” said Sharon Nesbit-Davis, executive director of the RAAC. “Starting this September, we are launching a year-long celebration that will highlight the contribution of the arts to our community, and we’re happy that Focus Rockford will be a part of that.”

Focus Rockford has the support of several local businesses, including MainFraiM, Camera Craft and Prairie Street Brewhouse, which are donating in-kind services for the program.

Photographers interested in entering the contest may submit up to four photos for $30, with additional entries for $10 per photo.

For contest rules and directions on entering a submission, go to Visit or for more information.

–Focus Rockford

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