German Valley Days fun is back! Like so many events, this charming, small-town annual tradition that began 48 years ago was put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic. It normally takes place over a weekend in June but this year will be celebrated July 17 on a single day with the theme “A Day in the Valley.” German Valley is located between Freeport and Rockford.
The festival will feature vendors, concession food, meals, games, contests and entertainment, with most events taking place at Ben Miller Park on Church Street. Family fun will include a 5K run, kiddie tractor pull, basketball shooting contest and a grand parade and fireworks show over Lake Baalton.
The event is entirely supported and organized by community members and businesses – pretty remarkable, given that fewer than 500 people live in German Valley. During its history, German Valley was once the location of Pleasant Prairie Academy, which began as a school for German-speaking students who wanted to serve in ministry. Later, a local bank purchased the academy property and donated it to the village for a park, named in honor of a long-serving village president.
German Valley was settled by German immigrants from Ostfriesland in the 1840s and was originally called Baalton. In 1857, the town consisted of a general store and two houses. When the Chicago Great Western Railroad made its way to the small community, a depot was established and the village was platted and given a new name.
The annual festival provides residents with a chance to celebrate their community history. It also allows guests to experience the charm of wholesome, small-town Midwestern fun.
Admission is free. For a full schedule with updates, go to germanvalleydays.com. ❚
Event Schedule July 17*
6:30-10 a.m. Pancake Breakfast at Fire Station
8 a.m. Run The Valley 5K & Kids’ Fun Run
9 a.m. Antique Tractor Show (until parade starts) | 9 a.m. Coloring Contest (winners announced 4 p.m.)
9:30 a.m. Pig Scramble
10:30 a.m. Kiddie Tractor Pull | Petting Zoo
11 a.m. Around the World Basketball Contest
Noon Antique Tractor Games Contest | Art In The Park 2 p.m. Parade!
3 p.m. Nerf Blaster Wars on the ball diamond | Cornhole Bag Toss | Grass Attack | Kids’ Games at Park
4:30 p.m. Pork Chop Dinner at Fire Station
5:30 p.m. German Valley Little Miss/Mister Contest
7 p.m. Forreston High School Variety Show
8:30 p.m. Raffle winners announced
9:15 p.m. Fireworks over Lake Baalton.
- Times may vary, check website for final schedule