Sock Monkey Madness
In the mood for a little monkey business? Head to Rockford for the annual Sock Monkey Madness Festival this weekend at the Midway Village Museum. A must-attend for sock monkey fans, this fun event celebrates the lovable stuffed toy that’s been around since the 1930s.
Sock monkeys made their first appearance during the Great Depression, when they were crafted using Rockford Red Heel socks manufactured by the local Nelson Knitting Company. The sock monkey became so popular that the company included a sock monkey doll pattern with each pair of socks it sold. Today the sock monkey is still all the rage, as evidenced by its appearance in Kia’s recent Super Bowl commercial.
Some fun events going on at the festival:
- Craft your own sock monkey during the Make-a-Monkey workshop ($20 fee; call ahead to reserve a two-hour time slot) or purchase one already made from a sock monkey vendor.
- If you’re the owner of a well-loved vintage monkey take it to the Sockford General Hospital for a quick fix-up.
- On Saturday catch the Truly Remarkable Loon comedy juggling show.
- On Sunday, enter your runway-ready sock monkey in the Ms./Mr. Sockford 2010 Sock Monkey Pageant (entrants are judged on beauty and talent, of course).
- The Sock Monkey International Film Festival runs continuously both days, and includes an original video by Barbara Gerry, great granddaughter of the founder of the Nelson Knitting Company.
- Be sure to take a peek at the exhibit The Missing Link: Socks, Monkeys and Rockford’s Industrial Past, which stars Nelson, the museum’s beloved seven-foot-tall sock monkey.
The Sock Monkey Madness Festival is held from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $8 adults; $4 kids. Go bananas!
- Margaret Doyle
Margaret Doyle is a Chicago-based freelance travel writer and editor at large for the Illinois Travel Guide, produced by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.