By: Nick Povalitis, CDME, Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau


Even in the midst of a global pandemic, that is the direction we are heading in the Rockford, Illinois, region. And like so many of our destination counterparts around the globe, our optimistic attitude begins with creativity right at home.

RACVB Stay at Home Songs album cover

A few weeks into our shelter-at-home order, the timeless adage that reads “music heals” would serve as inspiration for our interactive destination marketing shift. In early April at the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB), we launched Stay Home Songs, a free all-ages and all-genres community songwriting contest as part of our #StayHomeRKFD campaign. You could have called it a diversion from COVID-19 stressors or engaging entertainment, but the plan all along was all-out, continual spotlighting of the creative excellence and resilient spirit of musicians from Winnebago County—the homeland of our tourism agency and our residents.

The contest rules were deliberately simple: keep it original, create it during our newfound extra time spent at the friendly confines, and keep it to no more than three minutes were the basics. During such complex times—and what had at the time already seemed like months of staying home—creativity and simplicity win.

Downtown Rockford, Illinois

A few weeks and 25 song submissions later—as expertly judged by five local musicians—we were blown away again by the efforts and work of those who live, work, play and visit (staycations!) full-time in our region. In tourism, so much of our efforts and resources are deservedly earmarked for bringing visitors to our communities for leisure, meetings or sports events. That holds true for us in the Rockford area too, but we’re also proud to say it’s our residents who are the foundation for what is a holistic tourism destination.

Fast-forward about five months later and we’re nearing the end of summer in the Midwest. The contest “ended” when we announced the winner during 2020 National Travel & Tourism Week in May, the air is now cooling and the leaf integrity of our Forest City trees is waning. But Stay Home Songs has legs for a longer journey—created by our own people, it has staying power. Cue the music, the 2020 songs of summer are here!

With the recent release of “Stay Home Songs: The Album” on the GoRockford YouTube channel, we’re thrilled to keep showcasing the inspirational work of our community. Over its 11 tracks, “The Album” features artists from grade school through retirement age and covers an array of genres that includes jazz, folk, rock, pop, and even a virtual a cappella collective!

Beauty comes in all types of genres and journeys, so long as you look for it. And thanks to our upbeat album opener and contest winner, we’re still cruising optimistically along toward our next music-inspired project—the upcoming release of another destination marketing video that is underscored by the Stay Home Songs chart-topper. And that winning song’s title?

“Up, Up, Up.”

About the Author

Nick Povalitis headshot
Nick Povalitis, CDME
Vice President of Marketing & Sports Development
Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
As part of RACVB's senior management team, Nick leads the Bureau's comprehensive tourism marketing and sports development strategy and program execution. Since joining RACVB in 2012, Povalitis has developed marketing and sales strategies that have resulted in a multitude of national partnerships, flagship tourism events, and the creation and execution of locally-produced sports events. Under his guidance, the Bureau has twice been named the SportsETA National Sports Tourism Organization of the Year (2016, 2018), and was most recently awarded the 2019 SportsETA Destination Branding & Marketing Campaign of the Year. A 2002 graduate of the University of Illinois in news-editorial journalism, Povalitis resides with his wife and three kids in Rockford.