Eight in the Eight-April 2017

Happy April! How is it already four days into the month already? In case you missed our Facebook post, Emily became mother to baby #2 in March, and both mom and Baby Rose are doing wonderfully!

Election Day @ Your Local Polling Place
When: Today (April 4th)! 6am-7pm

You get the hint – we are big advocates of participating in your local elections. In case you missed it, here is our introduction to the Rockford Mayoral candidates: Brian, Ronnie, Tom and Rudy. Exercise your right to vote and find your polling place here.

Alton Brown: Eat Your Science Tour @ The Coronado Performing Arts Center
When: Wednesday, April 5 @ 7:30pm

Combining comedy and food, Alton Brown, food show host and TV personality, will provide a night of entertainment at The Coronado. If you’re a lucky audience member, you may even get called up to the stage to participate in games and demonstrations. You can get your tickets to the Eat Your Science Tour here.

Red Shoe Run for Donor Awareness @ NIU Rockford
When: Saturday, April 8 @ 8:00am

Not only are the addition of 5Ks and other local runs a welcoming sign of warmer weather, they are also a great opportunity to break out of the winter rut to support a good cause. The Red Shoe Run for Donor Awareness celebrates National Donate Life month, increase donations of organs, tissue, eye, blood, and marrow, and to raise money. Register here for this fun run.

76th Young Artist’s Show @ Rockford Art Museum
When: April 9th – May 7th

One of the most popular annual exhibits at the Rockford Art Museum returns this month. The 76th Young Artist’s Show is a highly competitive juried show featuring students from all schools in the area. Spend an afternoon enjoying the talent of local youth while supporting the local arts.                                                        

Easter Egg Hunts @ Various Locations                                                                                                           When: Saturday, April 15

What would this time of year be without a good ole’ Easter Egg Hunt? There are hunts happening in neighborhoods like Edgewater and places such as the Discovery Center Museum and Burpee Museum of Natural History.  We will cross our fingers for nice weather, Reese’s, and $2 bills.

Brews & Views @ Prairie Street Brewing Company                                                                                     When: Wednesday, April 19 @ 7:30pm

The Brews & Views 2016/2017 season comes to an end with the viewing of “The Great Outdoors” at PSB.  Enjoy your favorite craft beers and great food from a full menu, delivered to your table, while you watch the film! Doors open at 7pm, and Showtime is at 7:30, so arrive early to be sure you get a great seat. Admission is $5.

Spring Art Scene @ Downtown Rockford                                                                                                         When: Friday, April 21 from 5:00pm-9:00pm & Saturday, April 22 from 4:00pm-9:00pm

The Rockford Area Arts Council is back at it with the Spring ArtScene. This is one of our favorite Rockford events. Extremely talented local artists displaying their work at various local studios, churches, restaurants and businesses all around town. Grab a group of friends and make a night of hopping around to check out different artists and shows.

An Evening with David Sedaris @ The Coronado Performing Arts Center                                         When: Monday, April 24 @ 8:00pm

If you like to laugh (who doesn’t?), you will LOVE David Sedaris.  Sedaris is witty, funny, bright, and the master of satire.  We are thrilled the Coronado is hosting David Sedaris and this show will actually make us look forward to a Monday.  Tickets are still available here.



Meet the Mayoral Candidate-Rudy Valdez

Just like that, we are featuring our fourth and final Meet the Mayoral Candidate.  In case you haven’t been checking in this week, on Monday we featured the Republican candidate, Brian Leggero, on Tuesday we featured one of the Independent candidates, Ronnie Manns, yesterday we featured the Democratic candidate, Tom McNamara, and last but not least, we are featuring Independent candidate, Rudy Valdez.

What is your morning routine?                                                                                                                             I get up at around 5:00am, read the paper and check social media before getting ready for the morning activities, which have lately been a meeting/event before going to work by 8:30am.

How do you take your coffee?                                                                                                                               I don’t drink coffee, it keeps me awake lol. I usually drink water in the morning.

When you are not running for mayor, what do you do?                                                                             I work at an aerospace company and I also volunteer in many organizations. On weekends I spend time with my wife and grandkids.

Fun Fact                                                                                                                                                                       My wife was my boss when we went to University of Illinois at Chicago. A couple of years later we married and I broke my leg parasailing on the first day of our honeymoon at Cancun.

What do you think is the best kept secret in Rockford?                                                                   Levings Lake!

Who should we call for a reference?                                                                                                       Victory Bell, former 38 year alderman for the 5th Ward

What is your favorite, annual, Rockford event?                                                                                       The Midtown Ethnic Parade and Festival – I was one of the original organizers, which was led by Dori Kearney.

What was the last movie you saw in the theater?                                                                             Hidden Figures – It was extra special because of my years working on the US Space program.

Who is winning your March Madness bracket?                                                                                     UCLA

Why should Rockford hire you?                                                                                                                             –I have a unique combination of skills, background and experiences that can help make Rockford greater for all its residents.

-I have run organizations for the US Space Program at Hamilton Sundstrand that were four times larger than the $134M city budget.

-I established award winning teams that were recognized by NASA.

-My educational background includes BS in Chemical Engineering, and MBA, and a Doctor of Management, including a CFO certification.

-My broad community service allows me to derive solution by viewing problems from different perspectives.

-I have been actively involved with community organizations for decades and received many recognitions, including the Excalibur award.

-I love this city and want it to be the best sought-after city in the country! We need to think big and take bold actions.

For more information about Rudy, check out http://www.rockford4rudy.com/ or his Facebook page.

We hope you have enjoyed our getting to know the candidates in a different way.  Most importantly, be sure to cast your vote on or before Tuesday, April 4th!

Meet the Mayoral Candidate-Tom McNamara

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to day three of the Meet the Mayoral Candidates on State & Eight. On Monday we featured the Republican candidate, Brian Leggero, yesterday we featured one of the Independent candidates, Ronnie Manns, and today, we would like to feature the Democratic candidate, current 3rd Ward Alderman, Tom McNamara.  Enjoy!

What is your morning routine?                                                                                                                             I wake up around 4:30a-5:00a, feed our pets, play with our daughter Olympia Rose, drink a lot of coffee and head out to work.

How do you take your coffee?                                                                                                                     Strong and black.

When you are not running for mayor, what do you do?                                                                             I am a husband, father, son and brother. I am an insurance agent. I am a 3rd Ward Alderman. I serve on a number of community boards, and play average golf.

Fun Fact                                                                                                                                                                     Our daughter, was born on Leap Day, and our son will be born on Cinco de Mayo!

What do you think is the best kept secret in Rockford?                                                                     Long standing, historic neighborhoods and Five Forks restaurant.

Who should we call for a reference?                                                                                                           Dave Gomel – CEO of Rosecrance

What is your favorite, annual, Rockford event?                                                                                       Stroll on State

What was the last movie you saw in the theater?                                                                                         I don’t watch a lot of movies. Typically, with the free time I have I spend it with my wife, daughter and family.

Who is winning your March Madness bracket?                                                                                               I haven’t watched a single NCAA basketball game all year, so I went with the close-to-home Northwestern Wildcats, and now I’m out.

Why should Rockford hire you?                                                                                                                         I’m the only candidate with proven experience developing and passing legislation to stabilize neighborhoods, reduce taxes, fight crime and promote economic development.

For more information about Tom, be sure to check out http://www.mcnamaraformayor.com/ or visit his Facebook page.

Meet the Mayoral Candidate – Ronnie Manns

Welcome to day two of the Meet the Mayoral Candidates on State & Eight. Yesterday, we featured the Republican candidate, Brian Leggero. Today we would like to introduce you to one of the Independent candidates, business owner Ronnie Manns.

What is your morning routine?
On school days, rise around 6:30 am, get my youngest son up and ready for school, open up home office for the wife and myself and look for ways to do anything positive to do.

How do you take your coffee?
Don’t drink coffee but don’t leave an ice cold Pepsi around me.

When you are not running for mayor, what do you do?
Try to stay busy and hope that business picks up in the Transportation Brokerage Industry.

Fun Fact
I can’t stand mice.

What do you think is the best kept secret in Rockford?
The Rock River.

Who should we call for a reference?
My wife is the only one who can stand to be around me but even that’s not all the time so I guess it would have to be her.

What is your favorite, annual, Rockford event?
Don’t have one, never really had that kind of entertainment money and parking is such a bear downtown.

What was the last movie you saw in the theater?
The first Star Wars.

Who is winning your March Madness bracket?
Not really following but silently pulling for Northwestern.

Why should Rockford hire you?
Because it is time to stop doing things the same way expecting a different result and challenge how things are and always was with how it should be.

For more information on Ronnie, check out his Facebook page.

Meet the Mayoral Candidate – Brian Leggero

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you have probably noticed through our friendly election day reminders that we are big advocates of voting in our local elections. Voting local, much like buying local, gives us the opportunity to have a say in where and how we believe our tax money should be spent. It also allows us to elect officials who we feel will represent the best interest of the 815.

In the last few weeks there have been a lot of candidate forums and debates in preparation for the upcoming Rockford mayoral election. As fans of the national news website The Skimm, and as  local, lifestyle bloggers, we decided to mimic their Presidential candidate interviews by taking a personal twist on interviewing the four Rockford mayoral candidates. We will post one candidate per day, and we encourage you to check out their campaign pages for the nitty gritty on their policies.

First up, business owner Brian Leggero, Republican candidate.

What is your morning routine?
I wake up, my knees hit the floor and I thank God for another day on this Earth.

How do you take your coffee?
With 1 cream

When you are not running for mayor, what do you do?
Run my business, enjoy time with family and friends, golf, hunt, fish, camp and enjoy being outdoors.

Fun Fact
Led the effort and I got Cheap Trick finally nominated, inducted and to be the featured artist at the Induction ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  It was great for them well deserved and shined a very positive light on Rockford.

What do you think is the best kept secret in Rockford?
Our filmmakers here.

Who should we call for a reference?
Leann Jenkins

What is your favorite, annual, Rockford event?

What was the last movie you saw in the theater?
Jason Bourne

Who is winning your March Madness bracket?
The Gators.

Why should Rockford hire you?
Because I am the best person for the job ahead.

For more information on Brian, check out www.BrianforMayor.com or visit his Facebook page.

815-Rockford’s Magazine-Spring Edition

Photo Cred: Arturo Fernandez/RRSTAR.com

It might not feel like spring is right around the corner (crazy Midwest weather!), but we can assure you that based on the calendar, IT IS!  With spring comes not only the first signs of green and warmer (hopefully!) temps, but SPRING BREAK. We all know that once we leave school, it takes a lot of effort to take an entire week off of work/life in March or April for “Spring Break.”  Between possible limited vacation time, different breaks for kids, cost, and other limiting factors, it becomes a struggle to set aside time for vacation. With that being said, we decided to highlight five day trip destinations for those who can spare a day or two away this spring. In the past, we have highlighted spring break ideas in the area for kids, but currently, we would like to focus on day trips for the adult spring break.  While there are wonderful things to do right here in the 815, we also believe one of the many perks to living in this area, is the proximity to some other great towns and cities. Here is a sneak peak at our piece which will appear this Sunday in the spring issue of the Rockford Register Star’s 815 Magazine.  Be sure to pick up a copy and we hope you enjoy!

Monroe, WI

Monroe, Wisconsin, less than an hour from Rockford, is one of our favorite day trips when we are looking to get away for a day.  As the “Swiss Cheese Capital of the World,” Monroe is home to a lot of cheese shops and restaurants, perhaps most famous, Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern.  Things to do/Places to eat: Shopping on the Square, Pancho & Lefty’s (a favorite), and Minhas Craft Brewery/Minhas Micro Distillery.

Oglesby, IL

Starved Rock State Park is the main attraction when driving to Oglesby, Illinois.  Located just over an hour away, Starved Rock is home to incredible waterfalls (specifically in the Spring), and 13 miles of trails along the Illinois River.  If you are looking for an active day of hiking, fishing, boating, or just a place to enjoy the outdoors and relax, Starved Rock Park is the place.

Madison, WI

An hour away, Madison, Wisconsin is one of our favorite cities in the entire country.  Yes, we said it.  Madison is home to some of the best and most scenic biking trails in the country and offers great boating opportunities on the lakes.  After you have put in some miles on the bike or boat on Lake Mendota, there are incredible restaurants, plenty of opportunities to quench your thirst, unique shops, and beautiful scenery to enjoy. Springtime is the perfect time to spend a day in Madison and  advantage of all Madison has to offer.  

Galena, IL

While driving around the Midwest, especially through Illinois, one may notice that the scenery is well, flat.  However, this is not the case if you head an hour and a half west to Galena, Illinois.  With expansive rolling hills, historic charm, and gorgeous scenery, Galena is a perfect place to spend a day this Spring.  One of our favorite things to do in Galena is tour the three area wineries.  However, Galena is also home to many unique restaurants, shops, art galleries, antique stores, ten golf courses, hiking, and historic sites.  In fact, we are going to go set up our trip to Galena right now!

Milwaukee, WI

We couldn’t list some of our favorite places to visit nearby without including Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Have you ever heard anyone say anything negative after they come back from visiting Milwaukee?  In fact, we always hear, “Oh, I could totally live in a place like Milwaukee.”  Of course, one day in Milwaukee will never be enough, but why not start chipping away at all there is to do in this awesome city.  The city is home to incredible biking trails, museums, and marinas all located on Lake Michigan.  In addition, if you happen to enjoy a good beer (or more), Milwaukee is home to over a dozen breweries where you should be able to get your fill (just make sure you have a driver to get you home).  Just an hour and a half away, Milwaukee is another great spring break option close to home.

If you can’t get away for a full week this Spring, we hope you are able to not only take advantage of all the 815 has to offer, but are able to explore these other five destinations as well.  Who says spring break is just for the kids?!  


Meet Your Bartender – Ryan Bressler

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day weekend, we are back with another Meet Your Bartender post! Meet Ryan Bressler, bartender and co-owner of The Detour, the 815’s newest bar and grill. He’s a beer aficionado, and he’s got great taste in whiskeys, too. Let’s meet Ryan!

Name: Ryan Bressler

Age you feel: 30

Neighborhood: Guilford Country Club Estates

Years behind the bar: 11

What’s the best part of your job? The interaction with the people – it keeps it fun.

What’s the toughest part of your job? Also the interaction with the people. It’s never fun to have to cut people off or ask them to leave.

When you order a drink, what is your go-to? Basil Hayden’s Whiskey or a good craft beer.

The ideal night at the bar would look like this: Full bar and full tables. Standing room only. Everyone is ordering craft beers and craft cocktails. The kitchen is busy, and everyone is having a good time.

Other than The Detour, what bar(s) would you take a visitor to? Brewsky’sOlympic TavernRural on Tap and Drink

What is your favorite bar gadget? The glass rinser.

Do you have a specialty drink? I make a Hawaiian Punch drink that tastes just like the classic childhood Hawaiian Punch. I also make a good Payday (candy bar) shot.

What do you love about Rockford? Everyone is friendly. I like that people are supportive of local businesses. It’s the smallest big town in Illinois – for example, I saw four people I knew at breakfast this morning.

Thanks for making our drinks and for making the 815 awesome, Ryan!

Eight in the Eight-March 2017

Dr. Seuss Family Fun Fair @ YMCA of Rock River Valley Northeast Branch                         When: Friday, March 3 from 6:00pm-8:00pm

Check out a night of fun for the whole family at the Northeast YMCA’s annual fundraiser full of games, prizes and all things Dr. Seuss.

Lou Bachrodt Indoor Winter Market @ Lou Bachrodt Auto Mall                                                             When: Saturday, March 4 from 10:00am-2:00pm

I don’t know about you, but I am really missing the City Market these days.  However, we can get a taste of the market at the Lou Bachrodt winter market.  Many of your City Market favorites will be there selling their goods.  Check here for more information.

Sock Monkey Madness Festival @ Midway Village Museum                                                                     When: Saturday, March 4 & Sunday, March 5 from 10:00am-4:00pm

If you have been following State & Eight for the past year, you may remember that I attended the Sock Monkey Madness Festival a year ago and had a GREAT time.  This year head over to Midway Village Museum for a Candyland themed Sock Monkey event with activities such as Make A Monkey Workshop, a treasure hunt, monkeys on display and several other family friendly activities.

ART TALKS: Kailley Lindman Federighi @ Rockford Art Museum                                               When: Wednesday, March 8 @ 12:00pm

Be sure to sign up for the 2nd part of this series annually presented by Women’s Art Board, today! The speaker for the luncheon on March 8 is Chicago food writer, photographer, and blogger Kailley Lindman Federighi. Lunch is included with lecture reservation, which is required one week prior.

Grow Great Lilies in the Rock River Valley @ Klehm Arboretum                                                           When: Saturday, March 18 from 9:00am-11:00am

I like to think I have a decent green thumb.  But, I am MORE than excited to learn about what will thrive in my yard, and that’s why I think this lilies workshop will be an event I can’t miss.  You will learn simple propagation techniques, hear about the wide variety of lilies that flourish in our area and learn how to design a garden with lilies so some are in bloom all summer long. Bulbs will be for sale on sight!

Miranda Lambert @ BMO Harris Bank Center                                                                                     When: Saturday, March 18 @ 7:00pm

Even if you aren’t that into country music (or maybe you are!), I think we can all agree that Miranda Lambert will put on one heck of a concert.  The best thing is that she is going to be right here in Rockford.  There is still time to get tickets, but I wouldn’t wait.  This show will probably sell out!

Flag Class @ Board & Brush                                                                                                                                   When: Saturday, March 25 from 2:00pm-5:00pm

I am ashamed to say I haven’t made it to Board & Brush in Roscoe yet.  However, this American Flag Class looks REALLY fun and who doesn’t love a little patriotism, art, AND wine all at once?  You can register for this class here, but if you can’t make it, check out the wide variety of classes Board & Brush has to offer here.

Rockford Meltfest @ Prairie Street Brewhouse                                                                                           When: Saturday, March 25 from 10:00am-5:00pm

Bye, bye winter!  The 4th annual MELTFEST is the best way I can think of to get rid of winter and welcome spring.  Check out the MELTFEST website for a full list of activities free family friendly activities, the 5K, live music, food, etc.  We had a GREAT time last year and you can check out our recap here.

Dinner at Josef Barbados

Thank you so much for the kind messages you sent us as we celebrated our one-year blog anniversary this month.  We love sharing what we love in the 815, and we hope that we continue to introduce you to great people, fun things to do and delicious eats. To celebrate a fun year one, we decided to go out for a nice girls dinner to one of our favorite East Side restaurants, Josef Barbados.

Josef’s has an elegant, formal dining room, that I often feel the need to save  for special occasions, but they recently converted part of the dining room to be a more relaxed restaurant eating area near their wine cellar, and it was perfect for our celebratory dinner.  Especially because our dinners often include whipping out our notebooks and planners to jot down upcoming blog features. Another option is to eat and drink in the super hip bar, but even on a Thursday the seats were pretty full of diners and drinkers.

Ok, onto the photos and descriptions of the good eats. Owner Josef Schwaiger is an extremely talented chef, and therefore we tried every course. No regrets. We started by splitting the recommended crab cake appetizer, and we could not give up our appetizer plate to our waitress because we needed every last bite of this huge crab cake.

Next we had salads, and I have to brag about my salad because it came with goat cheese stuffed croutons. GOAT. CHEESE. STUFFED. CROUTONS.

For dinner I ordered their Char Grilled New York Strip which was cooked to perfection and topped with a delicious Madagascar sauce . It was accompanied by veggies and a delicious twice baked potato. I will be back for this steak.

Em had the Seafood Ragout with mussels, scallops, shrimp, white fish and salmon served over pasta. So many delicious tastes and smells.

Since starting the blog, we occasionally get recognized for our 815 articles in the Rockford Register Star, or from people who have come across our blog. While wrapping up dinner, a waiter told us we looked familiar and asked if we were on the news. We mentioned our articles and blog, and it came together for him. He insisted, despite our food comas, that we try their dessert sampler. Twist our arms. While all of the desserts were super yummy, we were blown away by the Tres Leches cake. In fact, I’m going back to Josef’s this week to celebrate my birthday with my family, and I’m already planning on having that for dessert.

What are your favorite dishes that you’ve tried at Josef’s? What did we miss?


Eight in the Eight-February 2017

Before we get to the awesome activities happening in the 815 this month, we want to take the time to say a BIG thank you.  One year ago this month, we started State & Eight.  You all have welcomed our blog with open arms and we feel a great sense of pride for what it has become.  There are times when it can be hard to keep up with things, but knowing that you all enjoy our blog makes it all worthwhile.  Cheers to another exciting year of all good things Rockford! Happy One Year Anniversary to State & Eight!

Rockton Yeti Fest @ Downtown Rockton                                                                                               When: Wednesday, February 1-Saturday, February 4, 2017

Make the most of the cold weather, put on your layers, and enjoy Rockton in the winter and take part in the following activities: Walk Like a Yeti (snowshoeing), Sculpt Like a Yeti (snow sculptures), Skate Like a Yeti (ice skating at Village Green Park), and Shop and Eat Like a Yeti in downtown Rockton.  For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Super Bowl Festivities @ All over the 815                                                                                 When: Sunday, February 5, 2017

With brunch at Abreo (PK diner pop up!), a killer carry-out menu from Prairie Street Brewing Company, a Super Bowl shindig at Rural On Tap, and countless Super Bowl specials across the 815, we are sure of two things.  1. You will not go hungry and 2. You will not go thirsty.  Enjoy this American holiday and treat yourself to some amazing local food and drinks.

I Love the 90s Tour @ BMO Harris Bank Center                                                                                     When: Friday, February 10, 2017

What do Salt N Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Coolio, Tone Loc, Young MC, and Rob Base equal?  Only our childhood!  Take a trip back to the 90s for a concert that will be so. much. fun.  Whip out the scrunchies and neon colors and go all out for a night down memory lane. Get tickets here.

Love The Blocks @ Downtown Rockford                                                                                               When: Saturday, February 11, 2017

Shop, dine, entertain, gallery hop! Downtown Rockford will be feeling the love for a special Shop the Blocks. With over 25 shops and restaurants participating, you’ll find so much to chose from Be sure to take a look at the Facebook event page to see all the amazing Love The Blocks specials.

In Full Bloom Orchid Exhibit @ Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens                                                 When: February 1, 2017-March 5, 2017

The In Full Bloom Orchid Exhibit at the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens is the perfect way to brighten up these dreary days.  The annual orchid exhibit features hundreds of tropical orchids as well as several special events including Orchids For Beginners, “What’s Wrong With My Orchid?,” and the Anything Orchids Plant Sale.  Regular admission rates apply.

Movies on Main @ The Nordlof Center                                                                                                               When: February 5 & February 12 , 2017

Who doesn’t love free movies? Movies on Main are open to the public and the venue at The Nordlof Center is general seating.  Doors open 30 minutes before each showing and you can find out specific details about each movie on the website. Movies for this month are The BFG, The Jungle Book, The Secret Life of Pets, and Suicide Squad.

2017 United States Synchronized Figure Skating Championships-BMO Harris Bank Center   When: February 23-25, 2017

Ninety-six teams will be completing in the 2017 United State Synchronized Skating Championships at the BMO Harris Bank Center and this seems to be another one of our childhood fantasies coming true.  We must admit, we had no idea that over 600 teams are registered for the sectional finals.  For a tentative schedule of events and for more information, go here.

Cabin Fever – Stella & Notte                                                                                                                         When: February 24-25, 2017

Having never made it to Stella & Notte (yes, we are ashamed!), we are definitely planning on visiting them for the Fourth Annual Cabin Fever Show.  They have filled their store with Spring decor in traditional, mid century, rustic, French chic and other styles.  For more information, visit here.