Mind & Spirit

Midway Village: Welcoming Spring, Sock Monkey Style

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Midway Village Museum has plenty of fun and educational events happening this spring, well beyond a festival that celebrates the humble sock monkey. Find out what’s coming up this season.

Midway Village’s World War I re-enactment, considered one of the largest in the country, returns April 6-7. Visitors will see more than 220 re-enactors using authentic equipment. (Midway Village photos)

Midway Village’s World War I re-enactment, considered one of the largest in the country, returns April 6-7. Visitors will see more than 220 re-enactors using authentic equipment. (Midway Village photos)

One sure sign that spring is on its way? Midway Village Museum launches its annual series of fun and educational events every March. The museum campus includes historical, iconic buildings, extensive exhibits and a gift shop at 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford. Nearly 50 annual events draw thousands and encourage them to have fun while learning about turn-of the-century life in our region.

This year’s busy activity season begins with a communitywide favorite: the 15th Annual Sock Monkey Festival, returning as an exclusive one-day attraction on Saturday, March 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a theme of “Around the World.” Guests are invited to travel around the globe and experience different cultures, crafts and customs. Passports are stamped as families move from exhibit to exhibit.

Lonna Converso, the museum’s director of marketing and social media, says festivalgoers can expect several new experiences designed to delight a wider age bracket.

“This year, we’ve added a new pre-kindergarten sock monkey experience for children ages 5 and under,” she says.

These children, along with their parents, can make a “Mini-Monkey Buddy” sock monkey doll under guided supervision for $10. The traditional sock monkey doll is $20 and includes all supplies and guided instruction. The activity takes up to two hours.

“This year, we introduce Midway Village’s new mascot, Babs, who will be available for photo ops and interaction with the children,” Converso adds.

Advance tickets are available by calling (815) 397-9112 or visiting midwayvillage.com. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 17. Museum members are free.

Another longtime favorite at Midway Village Museum is the annual Egg Artistry Show and Sale. Hosted by the museum, the event presents fabulous egg creations from around the world, crafted by renowned artists. Not only are the eggs themselves for sale, but visitors can purchase supplies to make their own. The event runs Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 3 to 17; museum members are free.

As spring draws even closer, the seventh annual “The Great War” military encampment returns Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7. The war re-enactment brings more than 220 re-enactors portraying soldiers and civilians from America and Europe in the late 1910s. In its observation of World War I, the event includes World War I replica tanks, a 150-yard reproduction trench system and full-scale battle re-enactments, among hundreds of other relics and displays. It’s regarded as one of the largest such re-enactments in the U.S.

“We educate the public about World War I because it has such close connections to our community,” Converso says. “Mainly, Camp Grant in Rockford was where thousands of soldiers came to train and be hospitalized. This was a major part of our history and played a strong part in our role in this major global event.”

In addition, the weekend brings a return of Midway Village Museum’s Traveling Bijou Theater, featuring silent films by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, along with the museum’s “The Great War” special event footage by Jorg Rochlitzer.

Admission to “The Great War” is $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 3 to 17, excluding film showings.

For more information about these and other events, visit midwayvillage.com or call (815) 397-9112.

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