MORRIS — Even though the annual Corn Festival has fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic and will not be held in 2020, some of the downtown businesses are still hoping to celebrate during the last week in September.
The Morris Retail Association is hosting a CORNTine Fall Fest in downtown Morris from Sept. 23-26. More than 40 locally-owned shops and restaurants will take part in the event and there will be plenty of 2020 CORNTine Fall Fest photo opportunities. There will also be individual events and specials daily for each shop.
"This all started when it was announced that Corn Festival would be cancelled," Apple Butter & Shugies owner Jane Kerr said. "We decided that if we didn't use the word 'event' that we could create something for the community.
"The members of the Morris Retail Association got together and we came up with the name, 'CORNTine."
The shops downtown will create a fall-themed vignette in front of their store, either on the sidewalk or in the front window. The goal is to provide photo opportunities similar to a traditional Corn Festival.
"We are telling grandmas and grandpas and moms and dads to bring their kids and grandkids downtown to have their pictures taken at different stores or restaurants," Kerr said. "We hope that the only difference from a traditional Corn Festival is that there aren't any food trucks or a parade.
"We know that a lot of families have certain traditions during Corn Festival, and we want them to be able to continue them in whatever way they can."
Kerr noted that, although Corn Festival is cancelled, CORNTine will be an opportunity for local families to help out the local downtown businesses and maintain their fall routine.
"People can still come downtown Wednesday through Saturday and help the local businesses, bars and restaurants," she said. "A majority of the businesses are going to stay open until 7 p.m. from Wednesday through Friday to give people time to get home from work and come downtown.
"Our business doesn't normally stay open that late, but we are going to do it for this."
Kerr also said that some of the Corm Festival traditions will still be around, albeit in different fashions.
"The Knights of Columbus usually has a fundraiser during Corn Festival, but they will have a collection being taken outside our store this year," she said. "The Eagles Ladies usually make fudge and sell it. This year, a husband and wife has taken that on, but the demand is so high that it gets sold very quickly. Clayton's is sponsoring the Baby Contest this year. The City of Morris is putting the twinkle lights up in all the trees.
"We are getting corn stalks from Bob Bols' farm and we will put them on the lamp posts downtown. The Corn Fest Committee is still selling buttons and T-shirts. There are a lot of things going on, and the people I have talked to are excited about it."