What’s New with the Rockford Fringe?

Hi Fringers! Are you ready to TWART?

Q: Um…What’s a “TWART?”

A: An outdoor adventure that contains a twist of art.

Q: Go on…

A: It’s something that happens during our summer outdoor adventures. The twart could be a twist of dance, music, poetry, painting or performance art.

Q: This sounds fun. Tell me more.

A: Our outdoor adventures enable the audience to be creative and healthy at the same time. Here’s a picture from our recent Musical Mushroom Twart. That’s when we hiked for three miles, harvesting mushrooms the way. After our forage, we picnic and Clarence Fraher shared his original mushroom-themed music and Richard Crooks shared an original mushroom-themed poem!

Jessica Rivera and Kerri Killeen show off the golden oyster mushrooms they harvested from the Musical Mushroom Twart.

Q: Do I have to provide the twart?

A: We have professional artists who provide the twart. You, and the audience, just need to show up!

Q: Can you give me some examples of what the “outdoor adventures” will be?

A: Hiking, stargazing, birdwatching, camping, etc.

Q: How long will the outdoor adventures be?

A: Most (not all) will last 60-90 minutes and take place in the morning.

Richard Crooks is the Rockford Fringe’s poet-in-residence.

Q: Where will they take place?

A: Outside, obviously.

Q: But where?

A: In forest preserves, local parks and in the cities of Rockford and Chicago. We’ll announce the schedule and locations soon.

Q: Who can come?

A: All Rockford Fringe events are free and open to the public. All ages. Leashed dogs will be allowed at most events.

Q: I can’t wait! What else has the Rockford Fringe been up to?

A: Keep scrolling, friend.

Jake Dewar (left) and Robbie Ellis collaborate on some comedy songs at the Rockford Fringe’s Ugly Jam Session.

In March, the Rockford Fringe hosted its first-ever Ugly Jam Session.

Q: What’s an “ugly jam session?”

A: That’s when professional musicians, comedians and spoken word artists gather in an “ugly” space and jam.

The first-ever jam took place in the “ugly” basement at the legendary Annoyance Theatre in Chicago. It featured an incredible lineup of top Chicago talent: JJ Smith, Jake Dewar, Robbie Ellis, Heather Styka, Aviva Jaye, Clarence Fraher, Phelisha Levi, Matt Keeley and Andy Rowell each performed 15 minutes of their original music, poetry, comedy, and/or rap. Take a look at some pictures of the artists from the Ugly Jam Session.

Q: They look amazing! What else has the Rockford Fringe been up to?

A: Winter Solstice Poetry Caroling.

Q: Huh?

A: Poetry caroling is like Christmas caroling. Instead of caroling folks with Christmas carols, the Rockford Fringe carols homes and businesses with acoustic poetry! Here are some pictures from our 2nd Annual Winter Solstice Poetry Caroling event.

Q: Looks fun. Who’s that in back?

A: That’s Chugro. She’s the local poetry witch who emerges from Walker Park once a year to share poetry in the streets of Rockford. Here’s a video that shows her getting around town.

Q: Cool. So, how often do you do this?

A: Every year. The 3rd Annual Poetry Caroling will take place from 3:00-5:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 21, 2023. Save the date.

Q: I will! So, what else have you done?

A: Last summer, we produced the first ever Rockford Fringe Festival at Walker Park. It was an all-day outdoor celebration of the performing arts! We had plays, music, parkour, performance art, poetry, dance, stretch, spoken word and more. It was free and open to the public…and a blast!

Parkour artists Evan Rusmisal, Max Saladar, Devon McIntyre, Nathan Sill and Benjamin Sill at the Rockford Fringe

Spoken word artist and author Aubs.

Sam Kuntz, Nathan Sill and Max Saladar of SigFreed Parkour, Jocelyn Kuntz at a Fringe promotional event

It was an eclectic mix of theatre, radio plays, comedy songs, spoken word, dance, stretch and parkour. Artists came from Rockford, Rock Island, Beloit, Freeport, Chicago and Minneapolis.

We are grateful for the media who covered the Rockford Fringe, including Jake from Rockford Buzz, WTVO and 89.5 WNIJ, the NPR station for northern Illinois.

Fringe Festival Gallery

Thank you for taking the time to read about the #RockfordFringe. We hope you join us at an event, either onstage or in the audience. Until then, stay up to date by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or listen to Rockford Fringe Podcast on Apple, Anchor or Spotify Podcasts.

Here’s our most recent podcast episode with 14-time Emmy┬« award winner Will Clinger.

Connie Kuntz interviews Will Clinger.