Keep Your Laughter Local by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL When Chicago’s legendary comedy troupe, The Second City, last appeared in Rockford in January of 2010 it was a sell-out from the “git-go”. Appearing then to headline the Rockford Education Foundation’s (REF) annual benefit concert, Second City returns again for 2 evening performances of their “Laugh Out Loud Tour” on January 20 & 21, 2012. “Second City was a sell-out when they last performed in 2010,” said Beth Dornan, REF Trustee. “Bringing them back for not 1 but 2 shows along with the added twist of allowing a local comedian the opportunity to perform with them is sure to mean another hit for the REF and even more money raised for educational grants for Rockford.” Let’s embrace a “think local” attitude here. Instead of taking our monies outside of the Rockford community to attend LaughFest 2012 in Grand Rapids in March, why not support the good works of the REF and laugh your sides out right here at home in the cozy confines of the Rockford High School (RHS) Auditorium. “During the 2-day January stay, as an added plus, the Second City troupe is doing two 2-hour workshops with RHS performing arts students. One workshop of 15 beginning level students and other of 15 intermediate level students all who will experience a good time participating in the creation of comedic skits along with touching on such topics as improvisational techniques, comedic timing, and the ability to harness creativity,” said Sue Arend, REF Administrator, adding, “This is a win-win for everyone involved, both students and teachers alike, and the entire Rockford community as well.” When Second City last appeared in Rockford, your reporters warned of a possible sell-out and sure enough it happened. Yes, there will be two performances during the upcoming January appearances but that doesn’t guarantee ticket availability. Ticket sales thus far have been brisk and we’d suggest placing your ticket orders sooner rather than later. Smiley faces are much preferable to sad faces, right? As we advised in 2010, Second City performance tickets would make GREAT Christmas gifts for that person who has everything, is hard to please, or is just a plain old Grump who needs a bit of hilarity in their life […]
Cliff & Nancy Hill
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL This Saturday will mark the close of the Rockford Farm Market season and what a season it was! In spite of a scant few naysayers, 6,083 market-goers weren’t wrong when they named the Rockford Farm Market as America’s Favorite Farmers Market. Sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, the June through August contest highlighted what the Rockford Community already knew – our hometown Farm Market is second to none! The buzz of publicity generated by the contest, on TV and in the press, brought countless new visitors to Saturday morning markets resulting in, according to market vendors, a runaway successful season. Possibly little understood is the fact that the Farmer’s Market is an economic engine that directly benefits Rockford’s downtown business community. This is underscored by a study undertaken by the Midtown Neighborhood Association, operators of the nearly 100-year-old nonprofit Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids. The Fulton St. Market, at its busiest, attracts upwards of 10,000 customers per week who spend an estimated $200,000 weekly at nearby businesses. The East Fulton Business District and all Eastown businesses, in general, benefit by the spillover effect of market-goers seeking other shopping and dining choices after filling their market baskets. Yes, the Fulton Street Farmers Market operates four days a week and the Rockford Market only operates on Saturday mornings. Nevertheless, Rockford’s mighty small-venue market brings upwards of 3,000 visitors to town on Saturday mornings, June through October of every year. From our contest-polling table at the Rockford Farm Market this summer, we learned first-hand that market-goers were eager to seek out everything that Rockford has to offer. If only more of Rockford’s business community could wrap their minds around the potential to exploit and embrace, to their financial advantage, the huge influx of market patrons. Other information of note harvested at our polling table was two often repeated anxious comments. The first being, “Where’s the closest washroom?” Followed by, “Why aren’t there at least Port-O-Jons on site?” We heard this as a complaint from vendors and a plaintive cry of help from market-goers. At the very least, visible signage could be placed directing those in need to the restroom facilities adjacent to the Welcome Center and those facilities available to the […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL For the past 13 weeks, The Rockford Squire, your locally owned and original hometown newspaper, has been providing exclusive front-page coverage of the Rockford Farm Market’s improbable race to victory in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest sponsored by the American Farmland Trust. We hope you’ve enjoyed our articles as much as we enjoyed bringing them to you. It may have only been 13 consecutive Saturday mornings in the history of Rockford, but for the farm market faithful it was the summer of a lifetime. Not only were farm market devotees afforded weekly the abundance of seasonal, freshly harvested, locally grown, Michigan produce, they were at the same time caught up in the excitement of the nationwide farmers market contest. As this week’s Squire went to press, the contest results were not yet available. If you are reading this issue Wednesday, August 31, you still have an opportunity to cast a vote up until midnight when the contest voting ends. All you have to do is get off your “duff,” head to your computer, and go to the contest voting website at www.farmland.org/vote and cast “the winning vote.” If you’re reading this issue of the Squire on Thursday, Sept. 1 or later, the contest is over and the results are available, again, by going online to the aforementioned website. Contest results may also be available in the Grand Rapids Press, along with WZZM TV 13 newscasts, or at rockford.waam13.com, in addition to local radio stations. Or, if you prefer, call Kate, the Squire’s office manager, at (616) 866-4465—she will most certainly have the results. Next week’s Thursday, Sept. 8 edition of the Squire will provide an in-depth recap of the three-month contest, hopefully reporting a win for Rockford. The contest may be over, but Rockford’s “Pure Michigan” farm market sails on and will be open for business as usual through the last Saturday in October (27). The fall season brings a new variety of offerings such as apples, cider, squash, pumpkins, mums galore, and much, much more. • • •
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Friday evening’s annual kick-off to the Rockford High School (RHS) 2011 football season played out to everyone’s delight. Football players, their parents and grandparents, extended families, friends and Rockford football fanatics all enjoyed an evening of preseason community building fellowship. The Rockford Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium’s home seating section was packed and rocking in anticipation of yet another successful football season. The annual Hots ‘n’ Brats event began with a varsity football practice after which everyone present, including all of the RHS varsity football coaches and 2011 football team members, gathered on the stadium’s concourse for hotdogs and brats with all the trimmings. Following the meal, Head Coach Ralph Munger thanked the Hots ‘n’ Brats committee and invited everyone to relax and, as he put it, “Talk some football.” Moving on, Munger introduced the offensive and defensive team captains, Mark LaPrairie and Ben Braden respectively. Each, in turn, went on to introduce their teammates on either side of the line. Munger then introduced what he called “a great group of assistant coaches.” Next up was an unveiling of the team motto board, which was engraved with the 2011 inspirational motto: “1st Things 1st.” Coach Munger gave meaning to the motto in saying, “Keep first things first in all facets of life. It starts with your behavior and attitude in taking the first step, moving on to the first down, and carrying it over into your home and your community. Simply put, take care of things one at a time.” A highlight of the evening then followed as Coach Munger introduced two people who are “pretty special, not only to football but to all Rockford sports teams. They are at every game, rain or shine, sitting on the 50-yard line oftentimes bellowing encouragement and admonition to their beloved football team.” Lyle English and his mom Rose Grindle, both recognized as official “Super Fans,” were on hand to present a 14”x24” stained glass work of art to the eight-member assistant coaching staff. English, a 1976 RHS grad, has a many-year habit of creating and gifting stained glass pieces to varsity lettermen and head coaches. This year he wanted to recognize those who work unselfishly behind the scenes in assisting Coach Munger […]
Rockford City management doesn’t waste a thing! Notice the old fire hydrant mounted at the rear of a city truck as it flushes the many fire hydrants throughout the city during the next two weeks. Ingenious use of the old hydrant prevents lawn damage and high pressure water release across heavily trafficked roadways.