Stretching across Rockford's south side since 1930, the 18-hole Sandy Hollow Golf Course has fielded fairway-threading drives, pin-seeking approaches, and birdie-sealing putts for more than 80 years. As one of five Park District Courses, the 6,228-yard loop presents lush fairways lined with trees, which aim to swat humans' shots as revenge for turning their friends into paper towels. The course also boasts a significant environmental pedigree, having been certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and taking top prize in the Public Space category of the 2002 City of Gardens Rockford in Bloom awards.
Course at a Glance:
Like most 6-year olds, Jack O'Neil enjoyed playing with toys; unlike a typical 6-year-old, though, he played with his toys in the hospital. Jack was gearing up for corrective limb-lengthening surgery, a process that affected him long after his successful recovery. Once he was healthy, Jack wanted to make sure other hospital-bound kids had toys to play with. Jack began holding charitable lemonade stands, using the proceeds to buy toys. Over time, his pastime morphed into his current charity, Little Hands Make A Big Difference. Powered by fundraisers such as an annual 5K, the kid-run organization delivers Build-A-Bears and other toys to sick tots, fueling their play and filling their imaginations with geometric shapes. For more information, see the organization’s blog.
Created in 1936 to bolster fine-arts exposure, the Rockford Coronado Concert Association brings box-office lurkers five classical, semiclassical, and dance performances each season at the architecturally stunning Coronado Performing Arts Center.
Founded in 1884, the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center is among the oldest community music organizations in the U.S., inviting patrons into its halls year after year to support and experience the excitement of live music. The center is home to the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, which won the 2011 award for Best Chamber Orchestra from the Illinois Council of Orchestras. The group of in-residence musicians keep fans of classical music thoroughly entertained with concerts throughout the year and tag-team wrestling matches between the string and brass sections.
The Rockford Art Museum has more than a century of creativity hanging from the walls in its galleries. It acquired its first piece in 1913 and has since collected more than 1600 pieces from local and international artists. Glass sculptures, 20th century American photography, and impressionist paintings vie for attention alongside the dynamic images of the American southwest from the Taos Society of New Mexico. The collection houses the detailed work of regional artists trained at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Royal Academy of Arts and the earthy, meaningful paintings of outsider art, such as Richard Burnside’s untitled painting of a cat made from paint and pinecone pieces.
Standing apart from the main collection, the museum’s RAM Art Annex houses educational programs and the museum store stocks an inventory of jewelry and glass pieces by local artists. The annual Greenwich Village Art Fair also shares art appreciation with the community. The fair gathers more than 100 artists in an atmosphere filled with live music.
Though deft at trick shots, Tyler Voorhees doesn't expect beginning pool players to immediately master the game's intricate physics and geometry. So he focuses on fundamentals during his private and small group lessons at Rockford Billiard Cafe, even filming his students so they can review their techniques with video feedback. From there, pupils can join one of the café's leagues, vie for the top spot in a tournament, or just play a pickup round on 1 of 17 tables. An in-house pro shop even stocks more than 150 pool cues for purchase, as well as onsite cue repair services.
Not everything at Rockford Billiard Cafe revolves around its namesake sport. Darts hit bullseyes, royal flushes trump other hands on video poker units, and catchy tunes resound from an online jukebox. To reenergize patrons after long stretches of playing or dancing, cooks serve up classic bar snacks such as buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks, and pizza.