Start of Summer celebrates 50 years of bringing fun to the Rockford community

One of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce’s events, the Start of Summer Celebration (SOS), has hit an important milestone this year. Rockford’s favorite family event will celebrate its 50th anniversary with plenty of thrills, entertainment, food and fun. The event will celebrate by adding even more excitement to a schedule already full of entertainment. This year’s event will take place June 8-10.

SOS fans shouldn’t worry about missing their favorites, though. The celebration still features its parade (with more than 100 entries this year), fireworks (Saturday at dusk), carnival rides, Movie on the Rogue (Trolls), beer tents, food vendors, crafters, Direct Sales area, vintage baseball games, Rotary Big Daddy Duck Race, obstacle course by Rockford Ninja Warrior, children’s activity tent, frog and turtle races at Chase Bank, and plenty of live entertainment.

New events to celebrate the huge milestone are a Summer Vintage Market by Resale Republic and Full Circle Design, a Family Talent Showcase, a cornhole tournament in the Lion’s Tent, a firetruck pull to benefit Torch Run, laser tag and archery tag by BattleGR, and a Kids-for-Kids Run to benefit Team Orphan. To find out dates, times and more information about these events – and the traditional favorites – go to to download the schedule, or to find direct links to the events.

“The Chamber is thrilled to be celebrating its 50th year of our annual Start of Summer Celebration,” says Rockford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Southwick. “The SOS committee has been hard at work to mark this important milestone with even more fun for the entire family. There are a lot of new events that will add plenty of excitement and entertainment to the downtown area for those four days. The great thing is there will be plenty of attendees who enjoyed Start of Summer when they were children and are now bringing their children – or grandchildren – to the event. Rockford has many great traditions for the community, and this is a special one.”

The City of Rockford will offer a Community Night that will take place on Thursday, June 7. The Community Night is a special night for Rockford residents, with the carnival opening a day early just for them. It is a way for the City to thank its residents for a great year. City of Rockford residents are defined by a certain area – you can know if you qualify for the lower City rate for the carnival by whether or not you pay taxes to the City of Rockford.  Those residents who qualify for wristbands for $15 each and can purchase them Wednesday or Thursday, June 7 and June 8, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the City of Rockford offices, at 7 S. Monroe. You must bring proof of where you live to purchase the wrist bands for the reduced rate. All others who want to attend the carnival on Community Night must go to the carnival itself on Thursday, and can purchase wristbands for regular price.

North American Midway Entertainment will provide the carnival rides and games this year. The rides and midway will be set up in the South Squires Street Parking lot. Regular Carnival ticket prices are 1 ticket for $1.25, sheet of 22 tickets for $25, or a wristband for $20 per day. Daily wristband available for purchase at the carnival Thursday from 5-9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon-9:30 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Be sure to come to downtown Rockford and enjoy this wonderful start to summer, and help mark its 50th year.