Owner will stay surprisingly near as Polly’s Passions by BETH ALTENA The Baskets in the Belfry famous chocolate fountain may be gone forever with the closing of Baskets, a Rockford icon of business, but owner Polly VonEschen and her candy business Polly’s Passions, will remain remarkably near. When Baskets’ doors close forever by the end of this month, Traci Webber of Grand Cakes will transition from her current Courtland Street location to 18 Bridge Street. There VonEschen will use the kitchen to create her amazing sea foam, toffee, peanut brittle, turtles and a wide variety of truffles. “Once I made the decision, it was a relief,” said VonEschen, taking care to point out that she is all right with the decision to close, although it is bitter sweet. VonEschen came to Rockford because of job transfer for her husband’s work. New in town, she first met Chi Chi Rogers, former mayor and city council member. Rogers begged VonEschen to put her name down as entertainment chair for the Start of Summer Celebration, claiming the work was all done and they simply needed a name on the form. VonEschen has been an organizer for Start of Summer ever since, and this is her 24th year. “They had me in charge of the entertainment, and the band for the dance tent was the German Oompahs,” VonEschen said. “I couldn’t leave and let them think I’d done that.” Turns out the German Oompahs, while amazing, aren’t the best choice for a dance tent band. VonEschen, like Baskets, is a fixture in Rockford, and extremely involved in the town, the business community and service groups. She is a Lion, is active in the Heart of Rockford merchants association, an organizer for the Girlfriends Staycation, has organized Think Pink, and been an organizer for Rockford’s Harvest Fest. She is a board member of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, the Rockford Area Community Endowment (which brings the West Michigan Healing Fields to the area this year for an amazing 9/11 memorial), is on the Downtown Development board, and the Healing Fields board. Baskets was purchased from the store’s original owner, Paula Sedrowski, in 2005. “Paula was ready to retire and I wasn’t,” VonEschen said. She had worked in the business for […]
June 9 2011
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL It was a postcard perfect day for the opening day of the Rockford Farm Market last Saturday. Most every stall in the market was filled by local Michigan vendors. Michigan-grown produce is considerably less abundant at this time because the growing season was delayed due to unseasonably cool and rainy weather this spring—one exception being asparagus. However, that did not deter many of the larger vendors from bringing freshly grown and harvested farm produce from their greenhouses. Potted flowers and vegetable seedlings, along with potted patio tomato plants, and asparagus, asparagus, asparagus ruled the day. Everyone knows that the Michigan variety of freshly hand-snapped asparagus is the very best in the world, and shoppers were taking advantage of the market’s abundance. Even a local merchant decided there is no sense in arguing with the success of the Rockford Farm Market. An astute Rockford businessman, Pete Kruer, brought his beautiful Kunst Gardens potted vegetables and floral arrangements to market for the first time ever. “I didn’t realize how much fun this would be. I’ll be back!” said Kruer. There are 17 Saturdays remaining in the Rockford Farm Market season so, if you haven’t already done so, please remember to cast your vote for Rockford’s Farmers Market in the America’s Favorite Farm Market contest. It’s as simple as going to www.farmland.org/vote and following the prompts. You can vote once for each e-mail address you and your family members have. Heck, don’t stop there. Support Rockford and this great market and network the contest to friends and co-workers. As of the writing of this article, Rockford’s market has only 18 votes. This is Rockford, we can do better than that! Remember, because of the Start of Summer festivities this coming weekend, Farm Market will be held on Main Street in the parking lot across from Chase Bank on the old Northland Pontiac GMC dealership property.
The annual Start of Summer Duck Race is just around the corner and Rotarians are ready and willing to sell you your chance to win the grand prize of $500 and two other wins of $250 each. New Duck Race Chair Erik Luxhoj came up with the brilliant idea of borrowing the cutest neighbor kid around and had her sell the tickets door to door (with supervision). If you see Carley, be sure to buy your ticket for this year’s duck race or contact any Rockford Rotarian.
Rockford High School 2004 graduate, Carly Uthoff, has been cast as a principle role in the Civic Theater’s current production of “Hairspray.” The musical follows Tracy Turnblad, a plump teenage girl who dreams of dancing on a local TV program, “The Corny Collins Show.” Uthoff will be playing Penny, Tracy’s slightly dorky, devoted and perky best friend, who sticks by her side when Tracy becomes an instant celebrity and causes turmoil by launching a campaign to integrate the show during a time when segregation is running rampant in their Baltimore town. This will be Uthoff’s first starring role at the Civic Theater; a role she finds both challenging and exhilarating for any aspiring performer. Eager to join the thespian world from early on, Uthoff was heavily involved in Rockford’s choir and theater program, appearing in such shows as “Once on This Island,” “Cinderella,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Our Town,” “Macbeth,” and many more. After high school, Uthoff attended Alma College on a vocal scholarship, expanding her performance capacity while touring the United States and Europe as a member of the Alma Choir. In February 2011, Uthoff made her community theater debut as a member of the chorus line in the Civic Center’s “Hello Dolly.” “The director Penelope Notter has an amazing vision for this show and has the ‘go big or go home’ mindset that will make it a success, and will hold nothing back to entertain the audience!” said Uthoff, the daughter of Dan and Sandy Uthoff of Rockford. Hairspray will be playing at the Civic Theater in downtown Grand Rapids from June 10 until July 2, 2011. Tickets may be purchased on the theater’s website at www.grct.org or at the door.
Alpha Family Center will host its annual LifeWalk on Saturday, June 19 at 10 a.m. at Morley Park in Cedar Springs. LifeWalk is a chance for everyone to help young families and children in a very useful way. “For people who don’t have a lot of time, but are looking for a practical and fun way to put their pro-life beliefs into action, LifeWalk is the perfect opportunity,” said Lorrie Shelton, executive director of Alpha. Alpha Family Center is a nonprofit, faith-based pregnancy care center servicing hundreds in the West Michigan area. Last year, they were able to offer help and hope to over 1,590 individual families with over 18,000 free baby items given out. Their services include: pregnancy testing, peer counseling, community agency referrals, maternity clothing, and baby and toddler care necessities. They also provide accurate information on abortion, adoption, and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as parenting classes, sexual abuse, miscarriage and post-abortion support. To participate in LifeWalk 2011, call (616) 696-2616 for a pledge form.