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'It's like a big reunion'

Residents, past and present, take in Corn Fest celebration

This year's Grundy County Corn Festival Queen, Natalie Cash, 16, of Gardner, waves to the crowd from her float during the Corn Fest parade on Sunday.
This year's Grundy County Corn Festival Queen, Natalie Cash, 16, of Gardner, waves to the crowd from her float during the Corn Fest parade on Sunday.

Big wheels and big crowds could be found on Liberty Street as the 2012 Grundy County Corn Festival wrapped up Sunday. 

Early in the afternoon, one attraction for festival-goers was the annual Kiwanis Big Wheels Races. Children in big wheels of all colors could be found at the starting line at Liberty and Washington Streets, waiting for their cue to start pedaling furiously to the end line at Main Street.

One competitor was Grace Lines, 8, of Morris. She ended up taking second place in her age group, with fellow 8- and 9-year-olds. It wasn't her first year, though.

"I've been in it three times, I think," she said, clutching a shiny trophy. "It's really fun — last year I got first place."

Lines said she usually places high among her peers, and that she was feeling good about her win this year.

"I feel happy," she said.

Lines' grandmother, Ruth Lines, also of Morris, said she's attended all 64 Corn Festivals and has been coming to the Big Wheels Races for as long as they've been held. The tradition for the Lines family is to head straight to downtown following Sunday morning church services.

"We haven't missed one of them yet," she said. 

Lines said she enjoys coming to see special people in her life take part.

"My grandchildren are always in it," she said. "We've had quite a few winners."

A few hours later, crowds packed in along Washington and Liberty Street for the annual Corn Fest parade.

Bejeweled flag teams twirled colorful flags, marching bands played new and old tunes, and local fire trucks and law enforcement vehicles were on display, as were numerous local organizations and politicians. Children lining the streets waved at firefighters and received goodies and flyers from different floats.

After riding on a float for Donna Mueller's School of Dance with her two daughters, Macy, 6, and Madelyn, 3, Jennifer Shell of Morris said she was enjoying the afternoon and seeing the other participants in the parade.

"So far, it's been great," she said. "From what we've seen, it's been beautiful, and it's a beautiful day for it."

Shell said the crowds were a nice size this year, which added to the fun.

"It's always nice to see the streets lined with little ones excited to see the floats, and parents and grandparents taking pictures," she said.

Shell also said the parade, as well as Corn Fest, is fun because it shows that even though Morris is a small town, it has a bigger impact. In her family, she had relatives originally from Morris who live in Minnesota travel into town for the must-attend event.

"It's like a big reunion," she said.


Best Use of Corn Festival Theme, "Volunteers — The Heart of Our Community"

First Presbyterian Church

Youth Float

First place: Morris Chiefs

Second place: Immaculate Conception School

Third place: Spirit Cheerleading

Civic Homemade

First place: First Presbyterian Church

Second Place: Homes Cool 4-H

Third place: Prolife Ministries

Outside County Commercial

First place: Streator Onized Credit Union

Second place: Rockin' County DJ n Boots

Commercial Professional

First place: Standard Bank

Second place: Jewel Osco

Third place: Culver's

Commercial Homemade

First place: Associated Orthodontist

Second place: Walnut Grove Village

Third place: Grundy Bank

Dance, Poms

First place: Donna Mueller's School of Dance

First place: Pam's Academy of Dance

Third place: TNT Dance


Grade School A:

First place: Troy Middle School

Second place: Central Middle School

Third place: Minooka Junior High School

Grade School B:

First place: Saratoga Grade School

Second place: Reed Custer Middle School

Third place: MVK Middle School

Grade School C:

First place: Somonauk Middle School

Second place: Coal City Middle School

High School A:

First place: Minooka High School

Second place: West Aurora High School

Third place: Morris High School

High School C:

First place: Coal City High School

Second place: Reed Custer High School

High School D:

First place: Gardner-South Wilmington High School

Second place: Serena Community Unit #2

Third place: Earlville High School

Best Junior High: Troy Middle School

Best High School: Minooka High School

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