Happy summer! Today marks the official first day of summer, but in Rockford we’ve had a great teaser of all the things we love about this season.

We watched our very own Fred Van Vleet and his Toronto Raptors take home the NBA Championship while we all gathered around a big screen downtown. We welcomed artists from across the country to the CRE8IV art festival, and in turn they left us with a colorful reminder of the impact the arts have on our community. And, of course, we’ve been making the most of our warm months while enjoying favorites like City Market and Dinner on the Docks.

As the Transform Rockford movement works to make this a Top 25 community, community events demonstrate how we’re creating diverse forms of creative expression and recreation that lead to self-fulfillment and national acclaim. An abundance of fun cultural activities means it’s easy to make this a summer to remember – and you won’t want to miss these four bucket list-worthy events.

Art in Bloom, June 24-27

Back for a fourth year, this Rockford Art Museum event puts our region’s floral talents on full display alongside this summer’s exhibition. From June 24-27, you can see local florists’ interpretations of the artwork in the museum’s latest exhibit, Chance Encounter: Julie Heffernan and Shelly Mosman. Both Heffernan and Mosman explore themes of female figures in history. Admission is free with museum admission; a special preview party on June 24 gives you a first look.

Culture Crawl, July 20

Soak in all that Rockford’s cultural scene has to offer when you join the Culture Crawl, a one-day-only experience that includes free admission and special activities at some of the city’s top destinations. Visit each of the seven participating locations to stamp your “passport,” and win prizes. Visit Discovery Center Museum, Rockford Art Museum/Rockford Dance Co., Midway Village Museum and the Ethnic Heritage Museum for free admission. Visit Anderson Japanese Gardens, Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, and Burpee Museum of Natural History for special events, including live animal demonstrations. Stop at Midway Village “after hours” for an adults-only gathering that includes live music, alcoholic beverages and adults-only activities.

Sounds of Summer

It’s just not summer without a little live music, and you’ll find it aplenty during Rockford Park District’s long-running summer concert series. Stop by the Sinnissippi Music Shell every Tuesday and Thursday through Aug. 8 for the Music in the Park series, and you’ll hear a variety of local and touring acts. Nicholas Conservatory hosts Tunes on the Terrace every Wednesday from July 10-Aug. 28, while Live at Levings draws a more urban crowd to Levings Park every Sunday night from June 2-Aug. 4. Wrap up the season with Domingos en el Parque on Sunday, Aug. 19. This concert at Levings Park draws a full lineup of Latino acts.

Cycle on 2nd

Close out the summer season with a bike ride unlike any you’ll ever do this summer. Scheduled for Sept. 8, the Cycle on 2nd event is just what it sounds like: a noncompetitive community bike ride on a two-mile stretch of Second Street. It’ll be free of all cars from Auburn Street to Madison Street, where riders can enjoy some post-ride food, fun and games at the City Market Pavilion. Best of all: there’s no registration needed. Just show up! The ride is sponsored by I Bike Rockford, a group of biking enthusiasts who push smart policy – in between riding the Rockford area’s many trails.

There’s no excuse to say “I’m bored” this summer – not with so many fun events for everyone in the family. Go out and make the most of all our city’s cultural scene has to offer!

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