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Liberty’s Kids

Downtown Morris festival adds events that appeal to children

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 8:24 a.m. CDT
(Herald File Photo)
Long a highlight of the annual Grundy County Corn Festival, a Crackerbox Derby will be featured for the first time during the LIberty Days celebration that begins Thursday in downtown Morris. The derby, which unlike the Corn Festival event will have no upper age restriction, will take place in Goold Park on Saturday, the unofficial last day of the festival.

This year’s Liberty Days festivities offer something for the whole family to enjoy, even down to the furry family members.

Liberty Days kicks off Thursday and activities will be offered through Saturday. The event officially ends Wednesday, July 3, however, with the Liberty 5K Run/Walk.

Kiddie train rides, live music, parades, trolley rides and more are offered day and night, said Julie Applegate, executive director for the Morris Downtown Development Partnership, which hosts the event in downtown Morris.

The Bicycle Parade and Bone-ifide Care Pet Parade will be back again this year. The Bicycle Parade starts at 6 p.m. at Liberty and Main streets and proceeds to the Grundy County Courthouse. Participants should meet at First Midwest Bank at Main and Fulton streets.

Bicyclers of all ages are invited to show off their bikes, and are encouraged to decorate their bikes and themselves in patriotic spirit wear, said Applegate.

The Pet Parade will follow at 6:05 p.m. Owners and their dogs will walk the same distance and also meet at the bank.

There are two new events this year, said Applegate, Touch-A-Truck and a Crackerbox Derby. Both events are Saturday, June 29.

Touch-A-Truck is a free event from 1 to 4 p.m. on Franklin Street, between Illinois Avenue and Washington Street.

“We were looking for something new and that would appeal to kids,” said Applegate. “A committee member suggested this and it has been successful in neighboring communities.”

About 10 different trucks will be on hand, including two fire trucks, a dump truck and tow truck.

“The kids will be able to climb up on them, maybe blow a horn and hold a steering wheel,” she said. “We are looking forward to it.”

The Crackerbox Derby is also new this year and will be held in Goold Park.

The event will have several aspects to it and will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties, said Stan Motter, who will run this event and also does the Grundy County Corn Festival derby.

“The biggest difference for this one is there is no upper age limit, so adults can race if they want to,” said Motter.

“So for the dads who have been building cars for years, but haven’t gotten to race one, this is their chance,” he continued.

This race will operate differently in the sense that it is not by age bracket, but how your car qualifies. For the race, cars will be grouped together by times accomplished during the qualifying race.

It is $5 for an unlimited number of passes. The average of the two fastest times will be used for setting brackets.

To participate in the actual race at 6 p.m. Saturday, it is a $10 entry fee per car. Deadline for entry is 4:30 p.m. There will be two downhill runs per entry. The lowest combined times will be used to determine the winner of each bracket.

In addition, from noon to 4 p.m., a Crackerbox Swap Meet will also be at Goold Park for racers to sell and buy cars and parts. A spot at the meet is $5.

Proceeds for all the derby events go to Big Brother Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties.

“It should be a fun day . . . we’re hoping for a big crowd,” said Motter.

Liberty Days also features events at the Morris Public Library, the Grundy County Historical Society, and at other locations throughout the downtown.

For a complete list of activities, visit and for more information on the Crackerbox Derby search “Liberty Days Crackerbox Racing” on Facebook.

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