Young professionals new to the Stateline area, tourists visiting for a few days or life-long Rockford residents can all discover fresh facets of the Forest City through Tamara Gaumond’s new book, 100 Things to Do in Rockford before You Die.
An architect by trade, Gaumond’s passion for writing fell mostly into the genre of fiction until she heard a speaker talk about regional interest writing.
“About a year ago, there were two really nice articles about Rockford, one from Reader’s Digest, which called our city one of the ‘15 Best Places to Move to in the U.S’… and the Chicago Tribune’s article, ‘Rockford is making a comeback — and so is the city’s pride’,” Gaumond said. “This made me think back to the presentation on regional writing….so I sat down, did some research and made a big list over the 2018 holidays of local places and experiences to include in the book.”
Gaumond said that after reviewing, refining and finessing her book, it was published by Reedy Press in the fall of 2019.
“I think now is absolutely the right time for this book to come out as Rockford is in a renaissance through the efforts of Transform Rockford,” Gaumond said. “My friends and I enjoy Rockford very much, we love all the city has to offer. We think it’s an undiscovered gem and that people don’t know how much fun Rockford is. It’s truly an ‘off-the-beaten-path’ travel destination.”
The fact that Gaumond graduated from Rockford’s Guilford High School and returned to the city to raise her family, gives her a credibility and authenticity about the places she highlights. “I would say that I have personally visited over 75% of the attractions in my book; while researching the others or hearing positive word of mouth reviews by my friends.” She added that the criteria used for compiling the book came from her own experiences as a Rockford resident and a local place’s “overall significance, use in the community and ability to attract out of town guests.”
The tried and true reviews that make up 100 Things to Do in Rockford … are organized into five sections: Food and Drink, Music and Entertainment, Sports and Recreation, Culture and History and Shopping and Fashion. Each one to two page section of the book focusses on a shop, restaurant, place or experience found only in Rockford or within the tri-county area of Winnebago, Boone and Rock Counties. The sections also includes tips, addresses, web-sites and related information.
“The idea that I could come up with over 50 local and unique restaurants that aren’t chain restaurants (for the book)…is something that even Rockford residents may not be aware of,” Gaumond said.
“There are also a lot of interesting museums in our area in addition to the ones that always come to mind like the Burpee Museum of Natural History and the Rockford Art Museum. But the Laurent House, built by Frank Lloyd Wright is also pretty notable,” she said. “In research for the book, I also learned about Historic Auto Attractions in Roscoe. This is a crazy cool museum that people may have heard of; which is not just a lineup of cars, but a very intriguing place.”
100 Things to Do in Rockford… is not only a go-to resource for newbies living in the Forest City but a catalyst to shake things up for veteran residents.
“In writing the book, I discovered new attractions and tried to reinforce the good experiences of Rockford which are really good. When you have young kids, you know about Jane the Dinosaur at Burpee; but you forget how significant she is … being a top 10 dinosaur find in the last 100 years,” Gaumond said.
“Those with grown kids may find the book as a guide to re-experiencing hang-outs of the past while checking out newer local attractions. I’ve tried to create a mix of discovering new things in Rockford and reinforcing what you know is cool, but maybe have forgotten about.”
Gaumond’s entertaining and humorous style pulls the reader in and makes them feel as if they are casually chatting with a friend. 100 Things to Do in Rockford… does not rank or chronologically organize the places featured but includes a full alphabetical index of each business in the book.
She provides sample itineraries based on different interests like: Girl’s Weekend, Craft Brew Tours and Botanical Getaway. There is also an Activities by Season section and the book has no ads or sponsorships from the places featured.
“I’ve also tried to make sure that each of the five sections in the book is pretty evenly balanced so it didn’t become strictly a guide to food and shopping,” she said.
100 Things to Do in Rockford before You Die is currently available at Barnes and Noble Booksellers at the CherryVale Mall, at barnesandnoble.com and at Amazon.com. Gaumond is also in the process of making her book available at local businesses. A book signing event is scheduled for Sat., Nov. 16 at the Waukegan Public Library from 2-4 PM; with December book signings slated for the Rockford area.
“I think it’s a great time to have this book out and continue to promote all the positives Rockford has to offer,” Gaumond said. “I think the book appeals to all age levels and groups of people from the curious visitors, to the permanent residents to the post-college recruits.”