The Statues of the Rockford Sock Monkeys
Location: Rockford, Illinois (various locations around town)
When to visit: Daylight hours
Time needed: 5 minutes each
Website: Fiberglass-Sock-Monkey-Statues-in-Rockford-IL on Facebook (unofficial)
Who doesn’t love sock monkeys? The city of Rockford in north central Illinois certainly does. There are apparently at least a dozen fiberglass sock monkey statues throughout the town. There’s even an annual Sock Monkey Festival in March.
There are so many monkeys that I couldn’t find a complete list, though this Facebook page lists the locations of several (check the user comments.) The one I visited was named Soxanne, and she was found outside the Midway Village Museum at 6799 Guilford Rd.
All of the Rockford sock monkeys look different. The Rockford College monkey wears purple, the school color. The airport monkey carries a suitcase, the Rockford Speedway monkey bears a checkered flag, and the Stockholm Inn monkey wears a blue beanie and sweater.
At the time, I didn’t know there were other monkey statues besides Soxanne, or I would have made an effort to see them all. Monkeys are the most awesome animal! (Well, maybe after komodo dragons…)
See the Giant Rockford Sock Monkeys at the Midway Village Museum
After my first visit to see Soxanne, I learned about the Midway Village Museum, which hosts a special exhibit dedicated to the sock monkeys.
Officially titled “The Missing Link: Socks, Monkeys and Rockford’s Industrial Past,” the exhibit enlightens visitors about the history of the sock monkey. Rockford, you see, was known for its sock knitting for more than 100 years, starting in the 1870s. Rockford’s famous sock was the one with the red heel.
One of the museum’s major attractions is its seven-foot sock monkey named Nelson. Nelson is soft and perfect for kids to snuggle with for photos.
A sock monkey museum is about as quirky as you can get! Read more about these quirky Rockford, Illinois attractions here, including the backstory of how great grand-daughter of knitting machine creator John Nelson led the charge to create fiberglass sock monkeys in the first place.
The Sock Monkey Madness Festival
There’s now an annual event in Rockford to take the monkey madness to a whole new level. The Sock Monkey Festival takes place each March at the Midway Village Museum. The 2020 festival will occur on March 7.
What happens at the Sock Monkey Festival? There are interactive exhibits where you can make your own sock monkeys, and themed games and crafts for families and kids. You have to buy a special ticket for the festival – admission runs $8 for adults and $5 for children.
This whole city is sock monkey crazy. The local minor league hockey team (the IceHogs) have hosted “Sock Monkey Night” in the past.
The Sock Monkey Museum at the Midway Village Museum can be found at 6799 Guilford Road, but don’t forget to drive around to check out the rest of the sock monkey statues scattered around town.
Situated in north-central Illinois, Rockford is less than two hours from Chicago and Milwaukee by car. It’s about 80 minutes from Madison and two hours from Kenosha, Wisconsin.