Some of the things to do this week include (clockwise from top left) 815 Ale Fest, Black Baseball Players exhibit at Ethnic Heritage Museum, dine out for Rockford Region Restaurant Week or check out the annual American Fanciers Cat Club Show. (Staff and provided photos)
    By Kevin Haas
    Rock River Current
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    ROCKFORD — The first weekend of February is coming up and there are a bunch of things to do in the Rockford area.

    You can sample beers from breweries around the region at 815 Ale Fest, celebrate Black History Month, have a laugh at a comedy show or shop for someone special at Indoor Rockford City Market.

    Here are a dozen ideas for things to do this week. If you’re ever looking for things to do, peruse our events page.

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    Sample brews from near and far

    815 Ale Fest will be held at a new location this year, Tebala Event Center. In this photo from a previous year, patrons sample brews at the Indoor Sports Center in Loves Park. (Photo via Mid-West Family Broadcasting)

    815 Ale Fest is back and features fresh brews and trusty favorites from breweries across the region.

    Participants include Pig Minds Brewing Co., Urban Forest Craft Brewery, More Brewing Co., Scorched Earth Brewing, Byers Brewing Co., Tangled Roots Brewing, Prairie Street Brewing Co., Generations Brewing Co., Lena Brewing Co., Founders Brewing Co., Church Street Brewing Co., Holzlager Brewing , Spiteful Brewing Tap Room, Buckle Down Brewery, Goose Island, BrewDog, Marz Brewing Co., Maplewood Brewing, Galena Brewing Co., Rush Creek Distilling and Hairy Cow Brewing Co.

    Quick facts: 

    When: noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4

    Where: Tebala Event Center, 7910 Newburg Road, Rockford

    Admission: $35 for general admission from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., which includes a tasting glass, pretzel necklace and access to all breweries. $55 for VIP from noon to 4 p.m., which includes the early access, a VIP hat and other Ale Fest swag, access to a VIP pre party Friday night, a tasting glass and pretzel necklace. $10 for designated drivers, which comes with lunch but no alcohol is served

    Celebrate Black culture

    Celebrate Black achievements in history, science, art, and sports at the Discovery Center Museum. You can learn about Black scientists through hands-on experiments, discover educational displays throughout the museum and contribute to a collaborative art project that will be on display all month.

    Quick facts: 

    When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4

    Where: Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford

    Admission: $10; free to museum members and children younger than 1


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    Laughs at Lucha

    Kristen Toomey and Mike O’Keefe headline back-to-back shows Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, at Lucha Cantina. (Photos via Fats Productions Presents)

    The Lucha Cantina First Friday Comedy Night has two shows this week. The first, at 7 p.m., is headlined by Kristen Toomey. The second, at 9:30 p.m., is headlined by Mike O’Keefe.

    Quick facts: 

    When: 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, and 9:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3

    Where: Lucha Cantina, 1641 N. Alpine Road, Rockford

    Admission: $7

    Tickets/reservations: 815-977-4319 or email Josh Binning at

    Shop for someone special

    Start shopping for that special someone at the Valentine’s Pop Up at the Indoor Rockford City Market, 116 N. Madison St. There will be local and handmade gift options, themed drinks at the bar and live music from Kayla Seeber.

    Quick facts: 

    When: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3

    Where: Indoor Rockford City Market, 116 N. Madison St., Rockford


    Learn the history of Black baseball players

    The Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., Rockford, will host its Black Baseball Players exhibit through April. (Photo provided by Ethnic Heritage Museum)

    Each year for Black History Month, the Ethnic Heritage Museum examines different aspects of Black culture and history. This year the museum looks back on the historic Negro Baseball League and some of its standout players such as Buck O’Neil, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige.

    There is also a Chicago Cubs section of the exhibit featuring Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams and Ernie Banks.

    No baseball exhibit would be complete without Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron.

    Quick facts: 

    When: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5 opening day. The exhibit is up through April.

    Where: Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., Rockford

    Admission: General admission is $7, $5 for students or $15 per family. It’s free for members.


    Visit The Bricks Wedding Expo

    The Bricks Venue Center will host its first wedding expo with more than 30 vendors from caterers to florists, bakers and more.

    Quick facts: 

    When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4

    Where: The Bricks Venue Center, 125 S. Walnut St., Cherry Valley

    Admission: Free


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    Go country at The Office

    The Office NiteClub is hosting country night with performances by Anchantriss, Cowboy Big D and Drako Knight.

    Quick facts: 

    When: 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3

    Where: The Office NiteClub, 513 E. State St., Rockford


    Learn Black history

    The Rock Valley College Black History and Culture Committee, along with the Black Student Union, Intercultural Student Services and Student Life present a series of Black History Month events called Black Resistance.

    The first two of nine events take place this weekend.

    Resistance through Fellowship, which features opening ceremonies and the Ebony Breakfast, happens at 9 a.m. Friday at the Student Center Atrium on the main campus, 3301 N. Mulford Road.

    Resistance through Education, a college fair with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. That is also in the Student Center Atrium.

    Hear Emily Dirks

    Soprano Emily Dirks will perform an array of songs ranging from Schubert to that of contemporary African-American composer H. Leslie Adams, as well as selections from musical theater. Pianist Kristen Nelson will join Dirks.

    Quick facts: 

    When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3

    Where: MPAC Starr Center, 415 N. Church St., Rockford

    Admission: $21 in advance, $25 at the door, $6 for students


    Get fancy with cats

    The Rock Valley Cat Club will hold the  67th American Fanciers Cat Club Show. There are also various vendors offering cat-related merchandise such as cat trees, cat toys, jewelry, beds and cat collectibles.

    Quick facts: 

    When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 and Sunday, Feb. 5

    Where: Forest Hills Lodge, 1601 W. Lane Road, Loves Park


    Hit the ice at Frosty Fridays

    Frosty Fridays discount public ice-skating sessions return this week at Carlson Ice Arena.

    Quick facts:

    When: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27

    Where: Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road, Loves Park


    Grab a bite locally

    Chicken and waffle at Kandi Kafe. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

    It’s Rockford Region Restaurant Week through Monday, and local diners, bars, pubs and other eateries are offering specials to celebrate. You can also help restaurants win prizes by choosing your favorites in several categories.

    Find out more about the specials and how to vote at

    This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas

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