The Rockford Chamber of Commerce (RCC), and its volunteers, put on a brave face and plenty of rain gear for the final Harvest Festival Weekend. Mother Nature wreaked havoc all weekend with torrential downpours, plenty of wind and one day that could be called chilly at best, and another that was considered warm. Welcome to Michigan weather!
The tough weather forecast did not stop the event, however, and despite lower crowd numbers there was still fun to be found.
There were more than 100 entries into the Rockford Squire Coloring Contest. The event featured three age divisions, and the judges selected the top two in each division. The winners were: Age 3-5, Winner: Gweneth Boncher, Runner Up: Lucas Shelton; Age 6-8, Winner: Lauren Jackson, Runner Up: Wren Bennie; Age 9-12, Winner: Sarah Busen, Runner Up: Sydney Stites. The winners were presented with Goodie Bags courtesy of Family Fare Supermarkets.
The rain stopped just in time for the Children’s Halloween Costume Contest and Trick-or-Treating Parade through downtown. Merchants did a great job of welcoming the little goblins, princesses and ghosts with candy. The costumes showed a flair for the creative, and the winners were: Grand Prize: Autumn Fairy, Most Scary: Skeleton, First Place: Legos, Second Place: Flamenco Dancer, Most Original: Zombie Brothers; Funniest: Cabbage Patch Baby; Honorable Mention: Baby Marathon Runner.
There were 16 entries in the Sixth Annual Chili Cook Off, expertly ran by Dr. Lori Vorpi. It was an extremely animated group of people who competed this year under the big tent, and the competition was close. A big thank you to Fire Chief Mickey Davis and his Courtland Township crew, who judged the competition – and there was plenty of chili to taste test. After the votes were tallied the results were: People’s Choice: Chili Chicks, Judged Chili – Professional: First Place: Cheers, Second Place: Cheshire Grill. General Public: First Place: Chili Chicks, Second Place: Brah Chili, Third Place: Two Bad Dads; Best Non-Red: Aloha Chili; Best Booth: Larry Roslund.
“The Chili Cook Off was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend,” said RCC Executive Director Jeannie Gregory. “The people who entered were a great group and the fun started at 8:30 a.m. Despite the rain, they rallied to get their chili made and still had a great time along the way. They always bring in a crowd and it was the largest group of entries yet. Like good cooks everywhere, when they were finished they cleaned their work stations and left the area immaculate. They were a pleasure to be around.”
The winner of the Classic Car Show was a 1979 Ford Pick Up, owned by Dan Rama and Rita Ackerman.
The cold and rainy weather also resulted in Movies on the Rogue moving indoors to North Rockford Middle School on Saturday night. Organizer Reel Air Cinemas decided that no one likes a wet dog, so moved Scooby Doo out of the great outdoors. The weather did not stop the movie or the raffle. The winner of the Backyard Movie Event was Erin Lachniet. The raffle was a fundraiser for Rockford Relay for Life. ReMax United had to cancel the hot air balloon rides due to the weather making for dangerous conditions.
Sunday’s weather caused the children’s activities to move under the shelter of the Rotary Pavilion, but there was still plenty to do. The Rockford Leos offered face painting, and artist Georgia Donovan shared her skills with the kids with paper cutouts. Also under the roof were children’s activities such as a Pumpkin Roll, Straw Candy Find and Pumpkin Coloring. Weaver Julie Daniels shared the secrets to weaving and her beautiful hand-made articles were on display.
Denise Bradley, and her contingent of volunteers, battled the weather and made sure they were there for her loyal supporters. The Make It and Take It Scarecrow Building was still one of the most popular stops for families.
“The weather is something you cannot predict when planning these types of events,” Gregory said. “We hoped for the best, but both weekends had a lot of rain. We kept as many activities going as we could, but, it was too difficult to save all of them. For example, it is pretty difficult to make soap in the pouring rain. Our demonstrations, which were an attempt at getting back to a good old fashioned Harvest Festival, were definitely a ‘wash’ due to the weather. That being said, we also saw a lot of happy little faces on Saturday and Sunday under the Rotary Pavilion. We would like to thank everyone who came out and supported not only the event, but the merchants and their stores.”