2023 Old Settlers Days festival drew crowds and summer fun for the whole family


Narrow Gate Learning in the OSD Parade down Rockton's Main Street on Saturday, June 17, 2023.

Thousands of visitors came out for four days of pure summer fun at Old Settlers Days from June 15-18, 2023. Festival action happened at Settlers Park, with other events happening in other locations in the community.

Event organizers Carol Wright, Terrie Garlow, Ron Montgomery, Scott Denowh, and Karen Martin were joined by numerous community volunteers in bringing this festival to life. Each chairperson oversaw a specific part of the festival.

In August, an all-volunteer committee starts planning for the OSD festival. The Rockton Lions Club works closely with the Village of Rockton, Village of Rockton Public Works Department, and Rockton Police Department to bring a venue to the Stateline that offers something for everyone.

Skinner's Amusements returned with carnival rides for young ones on the Orient Express dragon coaster, the Bee Bop, a firehouse bus, motor cars, or teacups.

Older people took a spin on the Cliffhanger, the Tornado, the Zipper, the Sizzler, or the fast paced, super fun Downdraft. More daring riders rode this popular ride two or three times.

Completing the midway were games such as the Bazooka Blaster, balloon pop, basketball games, Running Water, bass fishing, Skee Ball, and Gator Grab where players picked plastic unicorns and alligators out of a pond.

Food choices included everything from Chinese fare to burgers, pizza, ice cream and specialty meals.

One lucky winner earned $2,021 from the Hefty 50/50 raffle. Vendors offered OSD apparel, hats, and other items that catered to different ages and tastes.

High level sponsors qualified to enjoy the Lions Club VIP tent, which included dinner, desert, beer, pop, water, and premium viewing for concerts  all weekend, in a more spacious and comfortable setting with separate indoor bathroom facilities.

Go Army representatives greeted the the public, provided information, and demonstrated different types of weight lifting.

At the American Legion (American Center), the Rockton Lions Club partnered with the Rock River Valley Blood Center to host one of their most successful blood drives. “We had 200 sign up to give blood and we collected 192 units,” blood drive organizer John Schamell said. This year the Rockton American Legion Post #332 Ladies Auxiliary assisted with the blood drive.

Schamell also served as the race organizer of the Run for Carrie Lynn on Saturday morning, signing up 230 participants for either the 5K or the Zero K, a fundraiser with no running required. “We had 195 runners,” Schamell said. Top overall finishers were 16 year old Alex Batch and 25 year old Allison Ingham. They received concert tickets and a Meet & Greet pass for Sunday, June 18. The event benefitted Carrie Lynn Children's Center, which helps address the problem of child abuse in Boone and Winnebago Counties.

Led by the Rockton American Legion Post #332 and Ladies Auxiliary, the OSD Parade kicked off at noon. Lion Jeff Schreck assured a safe and fun spirited time for spectators and participants as the parade chair. The parade featured a nice variety of groups and organizations, vintage vehicles, and more. Parade goers collected plenty of candy on the sidelines.

A full line up of musical entertainment covered different styles and genres in the Apex beer tent and on the main stage.

Main entertainment hit the Bryden Motors Main Stage.

Mitchell Tenpenny performed with opening act Lily Rose on Thursday night. On Friday night sounds of the blues type of music was performed by the very talented Marcus King, following the opening act, Megan McRee. Saturday night Jackson Dean appealed to country music lovers. Mackenzie Carpenter opened for Dean.

Photo: Old Settlers Days

Sounds of country returned on Sunday evening as Josh Turner took the stage. Mo Pitney opened for Turner.

Local resident Luke Bufalo is a huge fan of Marcus King. “Being able to finally see Marcus King live was an amazing experience. For a young man with such an old soul, it was relieving to actually hear this type of music again,” Bufalo said. “Marcus King has a very bright future even though he has already been playing for many years since he was a young child.”

Bufalo adds, “I hope he comes back in the future.”

Each day of the festival, local bands are featured in the beer tent. Minimal, Blind DateLizzi Neal BandRollin’ WhiskeyBree Morgan, and Dirty Fishnet Stockings took the stage in the tent.

On Saturday afternoon, Tonya Morgan of Truly Treasured Gift n Thrift received a special visit from Jackson Dean who played his guitar and purchased a pair of Red Wing boots.

Sunday afternoon Mo Pitney stopped into DeeDee's Coffee and Decor.

Stateline Mass Transit District(SMTD) made entry into the festival easier by once again offering free shuttle bus service from the Hononegah High School parking lot to the festival grounds, all four days. This service is a long standing partnership between SMTD and the Rockton Lions Club.

The Rockton Lions Club Old Settlers Days festival draws thousands of people into Rockton every year. In 2018 the Rockton Lions Club was presented with a RAMI- Rockford Area Music Industry Award for the OSD festival.

Profits of the OSD festival will be given back to the community through various donations. Organizations assisted by the Rockton Lions Club have included The Center for Sight and Hearing, Carrie Lynn Center, Boy Scout Troop #619, Girl Scouts, Talcott Library, and the Old Stone Church Food Pantry, and many others.

Before the start of Sunday night's concert, the Lions Club presented a $2,500 check to the Leader Dog program.

Four days of pure family fun concluded on Sunday night as beautiful fireworks filled the night sky.

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