Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Rockton Pelican Fest 2023

May 20, 2023 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Celebrate the annual return of the American White Pelicans and other migrating birds to the Rock River.

free family friendly event in downtown Rockton, Ill. and at nearby Nygren Wetland Preserve (starting at the wildlife overlook, 3714 W. Rockton Rd.)

Together, Natural Land InstituteSinnissippi Audubon SocietyThe Village of Rockton and JR Finally Art Studio & Gallery present a day filled with activities and sights sure to delight everyone. Learn about and meet some interesting birds while visiting several educational/environmental booths. Stroll along the historic streets, shops and restaurants of downtown Rockton for an entertaining day.

Stateline Mass Transit District will be providing free shuttle bus service from Rockton (pick up at W. Main and Prairie St.) to the Nygren Wetland Preserve Overlook throughout the festival where you will be greeted by a knowledgeable volunteer to talk about birds and other wildlife.

Free Hikes at Nygren Wetland – Wildlife Overlook

Three Free guided walking tours of Nygren Wetland will start at the overlook at 11 am12:30 pm, and 2 pm.

NLI Trustee, Rob Clark, will lead the walks, with Zach Grycan (NLI’s Director of Stewardship) joining him for the 2 pm hike. Rob has been part of the Nygren Wetland bluebird monitoring team for more than 20 years. He is a bird expert and talented photographer who knows this preserve like the back of his hand. You are sure to enjoy your tour with Rob (as well as with Zach, who will join Rob to co-lead the 2pm hike).

Free Early Bird Hike

For you birders: Don’t miss the Early Bird Walk at 7:30am meeting at the Nygren Wetland Overlook presented by Sinnissippi Audubon Society and led by bird expert Joel Neylon.

In Downtown Rockton 10am to 4pm

Free Lectures/Presentations

Rockton Village Hall

  • 11 am | “Hoo” Haven with a live pelican
  • 11:30 am – 1 pm | visit with the pelican
  • 2:30 pm | Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful – Tips for recycling at home (Corinne Sosso)

Talcott Free Library

  • 12:00 pm | Sinnissippi Audubon Society: Peregrine Falcons – by Jen Kuroda, President (SAS)
  • 1:00 pm | Burpee Museum of Natural History – Paleoartist Ryan Dewey shows how pelicans help reconstruct extinct animals
  • 2:00 pm | John Longhenry – will talk about Sand Bluff Bird Observatory and share his bird photography


  • 815 Outside
  • Burpee Museum
  • Forest Preserves of Winnebago
  • GAIA, Hononegah High School
  • HD Jameson House
  • Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful
  • Natural Land Institute
  • Northern Regional Groundwater Protection Planning Committee
  • Serverson Dells Nature Center
  • Sinnissippi Audubon Society
  • Stateline STEM for Kids
  • Wild Ones Rock River Valley Chapter
  • Photo booth, Rockton Pelican Fest T-shirt and binocular sales

Traveling Science Center

We’re excited to have this mobile classroom featuring informative, engaging exhibits on biodiversity and natural resources for the whole family to enjoy. Find it near Main and Prairie Streets in downtown Rockton during the Fest.

Sidewalk Chalk Art

11 – 2 Fest attendees are invited to draw on the sidewalk with chalk led by artists Melinda Cook. Location will vary, but centered around W. Main and Prairie Streets.


Rockford Art Guild
Whitman Post Elemrntary School, National Parks
Art shows located at JR Finally Art Studio & Gallery, 210 W. Main St.

Thank you to our Primary Event Sponsor ($1000):

Audubon Council of Illinois

Thank you to our Event Sponsor ($500)

Iconic Energy

Thank you to our Supporting Event Sponsor ($250)

Wild Birds Unlimited (Rockford and Roscoe)

Thank you to our Participating Business Sponsors ($100+):

815 Outside
After the Vine
Balsley Printing & Mailing
Dee Dee’s Main Street Coffee & Decor
The Gem Shop
HD Jameson House
“Hoo” Haven Wildlife & Education Center
JR Finally Art Studio & Gallery
Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful
Natural Land Institute
Northern Regional Groundwater Protection Planning Committee
Pick-A-Dilly Antiques
Positive Changes Chiropractic
Rockton Inn Pub & Grub
Severson Dells Nature Center
Sinnissippi Audubon Society
Sugar Britches
The Village of Rockton
Truly Treasured Gift n Thrift



Stateline Mass Transit District
The Rockford Art Guild for painting the pelicans lining Main Street.
Andrea Keller Van Briesen Photograhy
Sarah Baines of Butler’s Emporium
Talcott Free Library



May 20, 2023
10:00 am - 4:00 pm