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Neighbors

Morris Downtown - It's more than just a numbers game

As much as I plan for an event, there are some things that I just cannot control, one being the weather. This year we were hit pretty hard with the Liberty Arts Festival falling on the hottest days of the year. Unfortunately, a few of the events were canceled or moved inside, several of the Art Walk vendors canceled, and the number of attendees was down.

Nevertheless, the show must go on! There were still close to 200 kids that enjoyed the Creator’s Village, and more organizations participated bringing artistic activities for the kids to enjoy. Even with some cancellations, more than 60 artists filled the streets for the art walk.

This year in particular I cannot measure the success of the event, by the numbers, but look at some of the personal successes. For me, the highlight of the event was when I was approached by the father of one of the student artists who thanked me for providing this opportunity for his daughter. Not only did she sell some amazing art, but was also able to network with artists who had more experience as vendors. He stated that the advice she received was invaluable. She was also asked by The Exibit Fine Arts Center and Gallery to teach classes! Another parent told me a similar story about her daughter, and another young artist gave me a hand written thank you note in appreciation for the opportunity to participate. Although there were fewer attendees this year, several artists told me that their sales were actually better than in past years.

In spite of the heat, this year’s new events were very well attended. Friday night’s “Art Crawl” was almost sold out and the participants really enjoyed the evening. I had one participant tell me that it was the most fun she had during the arts festival. I am guessing that event will be returning in the years to come.

Saturday’s ARTchitectural and Historical Home Tour was also well attended. In fact, the first trolley filled up quickly and a few people had to return for the next tour. The two remaining tours were also full. Although I was unable to slip away for a tour, and heard great comments from those who did. It was also great see how the community got involved. The Grundy County Historical Society Museum provided the organizer, Sally Van Cura, with additional information about the homes, as well as a vintage dress to wear during the event. Homeowners also were involved by sharing unique stories about their homes. Additionally, one homeowner created a sign for their yard, another provided cookies for the attendees, and others waved to the trolley as it passed their home.

Although some of the numbers may have been lower than what we hope to see, all in all the Liberty Arts Festival was a success!

• Julie Applegate is the Executive Director of the Morris Downtown Development Partnership

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