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Liberty Days offers new attractions

Traditional Morris festival pleases young and old

Liberty Days is this week in Morris.
Liberty Days is this week in Morris.

MORRIS – Art and history take center stage at this year’s Liberty Days in Morris.

New features include a Sunday concert, an art fair and the life of Abraham Lincoln in song, said Julie Applegate, executive director with the Morris Downtown Development Partnership.

President and Mrs. Lincoln, as well as the Chicago Chalk Champ, will both make special appearances, she added.

“These are the major new things,” Applegate said. “We’re very excited about them.”

On Saturday, Liberty Days is scheduled to host its first art fair. Judging from comments Applegate had heard, the community is looking forward to seeing the exhibitors, she said.

“Down the road, we’d like to make this [art fair] bigger and better,” Applegate said.

Chicago Chalk Champ Shaun Hays will join the local artists. Hays will create speed paintings with chalk and then assemble them all into a pyramid, Applegate said.

Also on Saturday, people portraying President and Mrs. Lincoln will be available for photos and conversation on the courthouse lawn. The president will present both the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address and will discuss his past trips to Morris.

“We actually put them in touch with a local historian so they have some of those facts,” Applegate said.

Joining them is award winning singer/songwriter Chris Vallillo. Drawing from extensive research on both history and folk music and then using Lincoln’s actual words, Vallillo will narrate Lincoln’s life in song, Applegate said.

“He will be playing a variety of vintage instruments,” Applegate said. “We think this will be really nice for both children and adults.”

A carriage also will transport Lincoln and his wife to the Grundy County Historical Society Museum. On display will be a Civil War exhibit showing the battles and movements of the 55th Volunteer Infantry Regiment mustered in Grundy County, Applegate said.

Since music is one of Liberty Day’s major attractions, Applegate is thrilled that the Air National Guard Band of the Midwest – the concert band and the jazz band – will play patriotic favorites Sunday evening on the courthouse lawn.

“We’re hoping to get a good group out for this,” Applegate said.

Not necessarily historical, but always fun, Touch a Truck will make its second appearance at Liberty Days with approximately 16 vehicles, about twice as many as last year, Applegate said. Last year’s Touch a Truck was very well-attended, despite rain.

“I just hope the weather holds this year,” Applegate said.

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