Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau announced strong attendance numbers for sites, attractions and events in Winnebago County in 2015. The region's tourism attractions and events welcomed 7,662,205 guests in 2015, up from 7,604,578 guests in 2014, an increase of 57,627 people over the prior year.
Individual event attendance in the region grew by 21,216 to a total of 950,058 (event attendance was reported at 928,842 in 2014). That growth is thanks in part to Rockford AirFest, Winnebago County Fair, Stroll on State, Festival of Lights and Old Settlers Days all seeing an increase in numbers.
"Each year, we see that more and more people are experiencing the Rockford region," said Josh Albrecht, RACVB Director of Marketing & Public Affairs. "What is really amazing is that our overall attendance numbers are able to rise even as circumstances such as bad weather can affect attendance levels."
Rockford area sites and attractions saw strong numbers as well in 2015. Anderson Japanese Gardens set an attendance record with 49,272 guests. In addition, the Ski Broncs Waterski Show Team performances saw a substantial increase from 28,874 in 2014 to 56,275 in 2015.
"The quality of our sites and attractions is such an amazing calling card for our region," Albrecht said. "The fact that Anderson Japanese Gardens, Ski Broncs, Burpee Museum of Natural History and Midway Village Museum all improved on their attendance numbers shows that leisure travelers are looking to Rockford more and more."
The Top 10 Events in the Rockford Region in 2015 were: (for 2015/2014)
- AirFest: 150,000/135,000
- Fourth of July Celebration: 125,000/125,000
- Winnebago County Fair: 95,000/93,000
- Stroll on State: 66,000/60,000
- Festival of Lights: 58,000/45,000
- Young at Heart Festival: 30,000/30,000
- Old Settlers Days: 29,500/16,977
- Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition: 28,000/35,000
- Pec Thing - Spring and Fall: 24,000/24,000
- Rockford Home Show - Showtime Productions: 23,000/24,500
The Top 10 Attractions in the Rockford Region in 2015 were, for 2015/2014
- Sportscore Complexes / Indoor Sports Center: 2,878,847/2,867,173
- Rock Cut State Park: 1,076,346/1,059,183
- Ice Facilities - Carlson & Riverview: 491,815/477,590
- BMO Harris Bank Center (includes IceHogs): 289,837/292,210
- Forest Hills Baseball Diamonds: 200,000/280,000
- Rockford Park District Golf Courses (combined): 187,006/188,528
- Magic Waters Waterpark: 186,331/170,021
- Discovery Center Museum: 181,961/169,328
- Lockwood Park Equestrian Centre: 135,200/133,720
- Rockford Speedway: 124,556/128,311
2015 Winnebago County Tourism Highlights
- In addition to the 300 plus sports tournaments and other events and conferences influenced by RACVB, the following events added economic impact to the local economy.
- Rockford AirFest saw an increase of 15,000 spectators in 2015 reaching 135,000 visitors.
- Magic Waters Waterpark saw a pleasant jump in attendance going from 170,021 visitors in 2014 to 186,331 visitors in 2015 (an increase of more than 16,000 visitors).
- The region hosted many sports tournaments, such as the annual Puma Cup, USSSA Softball and the USA Ultimate, and attracted more than 2.8 million visitors for the second year in a row as local and out of town players, coaches and fans played at the MercyRockford Sportscore complexes.
- Bolstered by good weather, the annual Head of the Rock Regatta saw an increase of spectators, pushing their attendance numbers to 20,000 this past year.
- In just its second year, Alpine Hills Adventure Park (Gateway Parks Snow Park and Zip Rockford Zipline) jumped from 825 visitors in 2014 to 5,920 in 2015.
The Rockford City Market took advantage of better weather and growing popularity as it broke the 100,000 visitor mark for the first time in its history. The popular farmer's market event had 75,500 visitors in 2014.
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