Rockton's Blues & BBQ: education and fun for a good cause
Blues & BBQ was the brainchild of Village President John Peterson when he served as a trustee. Peterson approached the Police Department, Village and the Rockton Lions Club to develop a memorable way to close out the 2016 Rockton River Market and Music in the Park.
Inspired by the idea, the Rockton Police Association, a 501(c)3 organization, formed a committee. Joining in the action were family members and friends of those serving in the Rockton Police Department.
Blues and BBQ events are just one way that the Rockton Police Association gives back throughout a year. All proceeds from Blues & BBQ will be used to support the Rockton community and the Jaimie Cox Memorial Scholarship.
This year's event went back to its traditional roots by hosting it after the conclusion of the 2023 Rockton River Market.
Lining the park were booths or tables complete with information and giveaway items. The Old Settlers Days (OSD) festival was one of the featured booths.
At a Blue 815 table, Andrea Cox, the chair of Blue 815, greeted everyone with a warm and loving smile. She is the cousin of fallen Officer Jaimie Cox. This organization is set up to build awareness, bridge citizens and law enforcement, empower support and to honor the fallen.
Andrea Cox handed out special plastic cups that turn the color blue after liquid is added to them.
Officer Cox died in the line of duty on Nov. 5, 2017. The Jaimie Cox Memorial Scholarship is named after him.
Jaimie Cox was a Rockford Police officer who graduated from Hononegah Community High School. Cox also served in the United States National Guard and was part of a National Army Guard contingent deployed from 2008-2009 to Nangarhar province in Afghanistan. He received honors including the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Illinois National Guard Abraham Lincoln Medal of Freedom Ribbon.
Playing from the gazebo were sounds of the band Mixtape, who produced music of various genres.
Officer Matt Anderson of the Loves Park Police Department gave a K-9 demonstration featuring K9 Koal, a dual purpose Belgian Malinois patrol dog from Czechoslovakia. K-9 Koal is said to be deployed more than 20 times a month.
Officer Anderson and his canine partner Koal were joined by K-9 Blitz who is a dual purpose Malinois and Dutch Shepherd mix from Belarus. His owner Luke Limberg is a graduate of Hononegah Community High School.
Officer Anderson said, “These dogs can run 25 to 35 miles per hour. They are very athletic.”
Koal performed a search for narcotics by following a specific scent.
Blitz performed a simulated apprehension of a narcotics violator, showing how he would normally go after a violent offender.
At the end of the K9 demonstration, one young man asked if the dogs smell of bombs. Officers replied that they don't.
These canines are trained in narcotics detection, tracking, building searches, area searches, evidence recovery, tracking officer safety and tracking criminal apprehension.
Emergency and military vehicle displays were on site and ready to welcome guests.
Rockton Fire Protection District gave rides in a ladder truck, which proved to be a popular activity once again.
Visitors bid on some very nice silent auction items and tickets were sold for a chance to win on a 50/50 raffle. The raffle earned a total of $690 with one lucky winner taking home $345.
Young ones took turns in bounce houses or chose to have their faces painted.
Teams competed in a friendly bean bag tournament.
Food and beverage options included Rockton Fire Association's loaded baked potatoes, Sam's Pizza, or pulled pork sandwiches and chips from Fibs, which were served under a Rockton Police tent. Extra food choices included Dairyhaus ice cream, DeeDee's Coffee made fresh in the “Hazel” trailer, and sweets from The Mix plus beverage choices of beer, water or pop. The Olive Branch offered Greek style foods in a food truck. Al's Main Street Tap offered adult beverages.
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