In addition to the Victorian Village and old doll house exhibit at Rockford’s Midway Village, another museum stands out among the attractions. Midway Village Museum is a small museum at 20,000 square feet that packs in exhibits that explore the history of the area. One of the featured, and most popular, exhibits is called The Missing Link: Socks, Monkeys and Rockford’s Industrial Past, a showcase of sock monkeys and their history. That’s right Silly Americans, a sock monkey museum!
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Sock monkeys are iconic stuffed animals made famous by the red-heeled socks that make up their bodies. Rockford’s sock-knitting industry played an important part in their creation and formation, from the 1870s until all the way through the 1990s.
From 1932 to 1992, Rockford’s Nelson Knitting Company of Rockford manufactured and sold Rockford Red Heel socks. The sock monkeys were born in the Great Depression as folk art. The company acquired the patent for the sock monkey doll in the 1950s and placed a pattern in each pack of socks.
The Midway Village exhibit features a plethora of the stuffed sock monkeys: some decked out in costumes and some in their own naked glory. Some vintage, some brand new. There’s even a giant sock monkey made of fiberglass or three! The museum exhibit also has plenty of chances to learn about the history of the red-heeled sock, the history of the sock monkey, and to see historical documents, including the original patents.
Want more? Every March, the museum celebrates Sock Monkey Madness Festival with costumes, games, vendors, performances, and a Make-A-Monkey Workshop.
More photos from the Rockford sock monkey museum:
Sock Monkey Museum at Midway Village Museum Center
Location: 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, IL 61107
Cost: Adults — $6; Children, 3 to 17 years old — $4; Free for members
Hours: Closed Mondays; Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm; Sunday 11am &ndash 5pm
Date: May 9, 2008
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While traveling through Rockford, be sure to also check out another nearby Illinois roadside attraction: Gertrude the Cow, a giant fiberglass statue in Lockwood Park Trailside Equestrian Centre and Children’s Farm.