Find all 19 walking tour plaques in downtown Rockford.

Enjoy Fun Local History Events at Midway Village Museum

Midway Village Museum has plenty of events coming up that are both educational and fun. Learn what’s happening this holiday season.

Find all 19 walking tour plaques in downtown Rockford.
Find all 19 walking tour plaques in downtown Rockford during one of Midway Village Museum’s organized walking tours, or on your own self-guided tour.

The gift of learning is offered year-round at Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, and the winter season is no exception.
“Midway Village is Rockford’s history museum and our mission is to educate the public about history and highlight the relevance it has in our community,” says Lonna Converso, director of marketing and social media. The village itself reflects Rockford in its heyday, in about 1900, the late Victorian era.
The museum’s latest contribution to Rockford is a permanent display of 19 plaques which highlight people and buildings that have impacted Rockford since its founding in 1834. Midway Village Museum staff plans to organize future walking tours, but interested residents can take a self-guided tour at any time. To learn more about the locations, go to
“This is the first time we’ve undertaken a project of this scope,” says Converso. “Visitors will learn about entrepreneurs, social reformers, a president, pioneers, immigrants, an architect, veterans, religious leaders and an educator, all tied to Rockford’s rich history.”
The project is funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois and is done in partnership with the Rockford Area Visitors and Convention Bureau, River District Association, Rockford Park District and Lauren Davis Creative.
Several upcoming events at Midway Village Museum relate to historical holiday traditions.
The Holiday Victorian Tea sells out each December at the museum’s Chamberlain Hotel and this year is no exception. Interpreters dress in period costumes and the hotel is decorated for the holidays. This year’s theme is “Holiday Goodies in the 1800s.”
If you don’t want to miss out on the tea next year, request a 2018 calendar of events the second week of January by mail or email, by emailing [email protected].
This year’s tea will include three courses of savories, sandwiches, scones and sweets, along with endless pots of holiday tea.
The Holiday Victorian Tea has been presented by the museum for the past 10 years and is one of its most popular events.
Another Victorian-themed holiday event is “Victorian Holiday Celebration,” scheduled 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10, in the Victorian Village on the museum grounds. There will be horse-drawn wagon rides; dancing at the Fezziwig Ball; Christmas carols; holiday cards made at the print shop; story time at Mrs. Cratchit’s dinner table with Rockford Public Library; craft projects; a visit from Father Christmas and special holiday snacks and beverages for purchase.
Admission for the Victorian Holiday Celebration is $7 for adults, $5 for children 3-17, and free for children under 2. Tickets may be purchased online, at the museum’s gift shop or at the door.
In a different Dec. 9 event, “Christmas in the Trenches” will be presented from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This is a re-enactment of the 1914 World War I Christmas truce in which soldiers on both sides called an unofficial ceasefire during the week of Christmas. Enemies came together to decorate, exchange gifts, sing carols and play football.
Re-enactors will decorate the 150 yard-long trench on the museum grounds and read excerpts from letters written by World War I soldiers. In addition to touring trenches, visitors will hear a narrated re-enactment of a battle and ceasefire, sing carols with the soldiers, receive a gift, sip hot chocolate, see real World War I artifacts and play football. Pre-register by Dec. 7.
The new year will kick off with a new Connecting with History Series. Its first event is a World War I Symposium on Saturday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Registration begins online by Jan. 2. World War ended one century ago, in 1918.
Speakers at the symposium will include Dr. John M. Cooper, professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, speaking about “Woodrow Wilson’s Impact on American Foreign Policy;” Dr. Ross Kennedy, history department chair at Illinois State University, speaking on “A Divided Land: World War I and American Domestic Politics;” and Dr. Paul Herbert, executive director of the First Division Museum at Cantigny in Wheaton, Ill., speaking about “The Great War and the U.S. Army (1917-1941) – A First Glimpse of Global Power.”
“The world wars are a popular history topic in the Rockford region” says Converso. “Thousands of troops came through Rockford’s Camp Grant during those wars.”