Rockton Pelican Fest: fun for the whole family


Photo: Jill Rae Finally Art

Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day and the annual return of the American white pelicans with other migrating birds to the Rock River region when you attend Rockton Pelican Fest, Saturday, May 18, 2024, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

Natural Land Institute, Sinnissippi Audubon Society, the Village of Rocktonand JR Finally Art Studio & Gallery present a day filled with activities and sights sure to delight everyone. Learn about and meet some interesting birds while visiting several educational and environmental booths in downtown Rockton. Stroll along the historic streets to visit shops and restaurants, which will have pelican themed specials, for an entertaining day. Attend presentations held at Talcott Free Library and Rockton Village Hall. Visit nearby Nygren Wetland Preserve to look for the American White Pelicans, Sandhill Cranes, other birds and wildlife.


Nygren Wetland Preserve – Wildlife Overlook (3714 W. Rockton Rd., Rockton)

7:30 a.m. - Early Bird Hike - presented by Sinnissippi Audubon Society. Led by birding expert Alan Branhagen (Executive Director, Natural Land Institute), who will point out birds along the trail and in the wetland.

10 a.m. – 4:00 – p.m. – Visit anytime throughout the event. Volunteers will be there to help identify birds and other wildlife that will be seen. A First Student shuttle bus will be provided by Downtown Rockton for free transportation to and from the Overlook on an ongoing basis. Pick it up in downtown Rockton at the corner of W. Main and N. Prairie Streets.

Guided tours of the preserve start at the Nygren Wetland Wildlife Overlook at:

11:00 a.m. – led by Rick Barton

12:30 p.m. – led by Rick Barton

2:00 p.m. – led by Zach Grycan

Downtown Rockton 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Stroll the shops and restaurants, see booths at the corner of W. Main and N. Prairie Streets and in the 200 block of W. Main St. Visit the Traveling Science Center. Participate in sidewalk chalk art with Melinda Cook, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Collect bird cards - collect all 22 of them to enter to win LEGO ICON Kingfisher. Other prizes also available.

See art shows and demonstrations at JR Finally Art Studio & Gallery (210 W. Main St.) by Rockford Art Guild and Whitman Post Elementary School. Wood Carving Demo by Don Hyson and watercolor demo by Jean Apgar. Enter a drawing to win a pelican watercolor painting by Jean Apgar and buy raffle tickets for a chance to win another pelican watercolor by Apgar.


VILLAGE HALL (110 E. Main St.)

11 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – “Hoo” Haven Open House - visit a live American White Pelican and hear interesting facts about the life of pelicans and their habitat.


10:30am: World Bird Migratory Day and Peregrine Falcons, Sinnissippi Audubon Society, Jennifer Kuroda

12:30pm: Trash Talk: Recycling, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful, Corinne Sosso

1:30pm: Life in Art: Using Pelicans to Study Dinosaurs, Burpee Museum of Natural History, Ryan Dewey

2:15pm: Creating a Pollinator Friendly Garden & Conservation at Home, Natural Land Institute, Kim Johnsen


Burpee Museum, Buckets n Blooms, Downtown Fancy Franks, Forest Preserves of Winnebago County

GAIA Environmental Club (Hononegah High School), Hoo Haven, JR Finally Art Studio & Gallery, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful, Kids Spot Academy, Natural Land Institute, Northern Regional Groundwater Protection, Planning Committee, Severson Dells Nature Center, Sinnissippi Audubon Society.


Sandhill Crane ($500): Northern Regional Groundwater Protection Planning Committee, Sinnissippi Audubon Society Great Egret ($250): DairyHäus, Pheasants Forever Winnebago County, Severson Dells Nature Center

PARTICIPATING BUSINESS SPONSORS ($100+): Balsley Printing & Mailing, Buckets n Blooms,

Burpee Museum of Natural History, Dee Dee’s Main Street Coffee and Décor, Downtown Rockton, Forest Preserves of Winnebago County, The Gem Shop, Healing Touch Acupuncture, “Hoo” Haven Wildlife & Education Center, Inkwell Books & Threads, JR Finally Art Studio & Gallery, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful, KISS Glass, M & M Dari Ripple, Natural Land Institute, Positive Changes Chiropractic, Pickadilly Antiques, Rockton Inn Pub & Grub, Sand Bluff Bird Observatory, Sugar Britches Old Fashioned Candy, TAC Rockford, The Village of Rockton, Truly Treasured Thrift Shop, and Wild Birds Unlimited.

For more information about the Rockton Pelican Fest visit and On Facebook, look for Rockton Pelican Fest.

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