By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — South Beloit celebrated its 100th anniversary last weekend during a four-day festival that ran in conjunction with an annual end-of-summer fundraiser for its fire department.
The South Beloit Centennial and its annual Corn Boil were Aug. 24-27. The event kicked off Thursday with Red & White alumni football game and historical remembrance of the old athletic field at the South Beloit City Park. Friday, the South Beloit Sobos defeated Midland 35-0 in the first high school football game of the 2017 campaign. Thursday and Friday’s games help lay the groundwork for reunion weekend for hundreds of South Beloit graduates who returned to support the team and reconnect with old friends at the school that opened in 2002.
The games also revisited the school’s only state football championship. The Sobos won the Class 1A title in 2002, and the trophy is still displayed for future students and athletes to see. The storied year was led by quarterback Jered Shipley, who threw four touchdown passes in the title game. A three-year starter, Shipley threw for 7,540 yards in his career, including 4,383 as a senior.
A parade with some of the most visible acts in Chicago and Milwaukee lined Blackhawk Boulevard Saturday. The Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile, Bucky Badger and Model-A cars were flanked by Shriners, marching bands, tumblers and flag corps leading up to the Corn Boil festivities. A car show, flea market, hole-in-one contest, volleyball and a softball tournament capped the day. A host of local acts provided live entertainment. Sunday’s centennial celebration concluded with a brunch and community events.
“This is affirmation that people really do care,” Mayor Tod Rehl said during the event. “There is a passion for their city and they appreciate more than you ever can imagine how much is being done for their city. To me, [it] has made these last two and half years really worthwhile.”
The event was organized the by the South Beloit Centennial Committee of John Patrick, Sonya Baden and Cindy Udell.
South Beloit was originally part of the area near the Rock River and Turtle Creek that is now Beloit, Wisconsin. It was home to several Native American tribes, including the Sioux, Winnebago and Turtle, and was separated from Wisconsin in 1818 when the Illinois Territory became a state. The separation was contentious as Wisconsin and Illinois disputed claims to much of the land that is now northern Illinois, all the way to the southern tip of Lake Michigan.
The outcome saw a portion of Beloit become part of Illinois. The city was nearly returned to Wisconsin in 1842 when Winnebago County attempted to annex to the state, but the measure was voted down. South Beloit remained an unincorporated area of the county until 1914, when it petitioned the state to become a city. The process took three years, and South Beloit officially became a city Sept. 17, 1917.
Today, South Beloit boasts a population of about 8,000. Its school district consists of Clark Elementary, Blackhawk Elementary, Riverview Elementary, South Beloit Junior High, and South Beloit High School. R.