There’s a place in Rockford, Illinois, where for one weekend a year sock monkeys take over the city. Well, not really. But kind of.
Midway Village Museum holds its annual sock monkey festival every March. The all-day event features a variety of activities including a Make-A-Monkey workshop, plentiful shopping opportunities, tours of the sock monkey museum, Ms. and Mr. Sockford sock monkey pageants, crafts and more.
The event is held to pay homage to Rockford’s role in the creation of the much-loved sock monkey. From 1932, to 1992, The Nelson Knitting Company of Rockford manufactured and sold Rockford Red Heel work socks. The company caught on to the sock monkey craze and acquired a patent for the monkey dolls, including a pattern for the dolls with each pair of socks sold beginning in the early 1950s.
As I missed the sock monkey festival last year, I decided I HAD to go this year. I’m a huge fan of sock monkeys. My mother made me my first sock monkey when I was four years old and I still have it to this day — he’s traveled all around the world.
I grabbed my boyfriend and we headed on over to Midway Village Museum March 3.
My first thoughts? I didn’t understand why we had to pay a $8 entry fee but gladly paid it.
I was immediately ecstatic over the sight of the gift shop offering all kinds of sock monkey delights. My excitement grew when I saw the rows of vendors lined up selling various sock monkey apparel, dolls, and accessories. The area where the majority of the vendors were also had a smaller area where people could sit at tables topped with baskets of fabric scraps, needles, thread, glue, and googly eyes to decorate naked, ‘blind’ sock monkey dolls (available for $15 a piece).
We decided to do a quick tour of the museum before trying our hands at our own creations. The sock monkey display in the museum itself was a little lacking, but still charming. We posed with a giant sock monkey doll and ‘monkeyed’ around.
There was another room where visitors could make an entire sock monkey from start to finish. The cost was $20 and the process would take about two hours, or so we were told, so we decided to pass. We went back to the section with the vendors and ready-made naked and blind sock monkey dolls. We bought our monkeys and got to work.
Initially, gluing on the eyes and sewing the little clothes was fun. But as the afternoon progressed, the area became more congested with impatient people and yelling children. People were a little rude and we decided to complete our sock monkey dolls at home instead of sitting at the tables and battling over materials.
In addition to three sock monkeys, we picked up a few other trinkets. Overall, the visit was fun and a good experience. My only complaints were the limited space, a few rude people, and the $8 entry fee. But it’s worth a visit. If you’re a sock monkey fan, you may want to check out Sock Monkey Madness next time it comes around.