MT. CARROLL -- Mayfest was not in the cards this year for Memorial Day weekend. But the group that organizes Mayfest still wanted something for people in Carroll County, some event to bring them to the Quad on the old Shimer College campus.
People brought their families and some snacks, parked themselves on the grass in front of the Mayfest stage Saturday night, and came together to watch a movie.
"We've been doing movie nights at home with the kids," organizer Brandon Ballard said. "It's good to social distance, neighbors can come by, we do it outside. We just thought we'd roll it out here and see if it works."
James Nye came from Savanna and set up on the Quad with his family, some snacks and a large picnic blanket for Saturday night's screening of "Tangled" along with a couple dozen other people from around the area.
"It's just something to do this evening," he said. "We had nothing really going on and it's close to home, something nice to do with everybody.
"It's good to have anything the community can do together. It's in the middle of the area, good, fun thing to do with the kids."
It's very scaled down from Mayfests in the past. Ballard brought back the festival in 2019 after it was not held in 2018, bringing music, a Civil War reenactment, craft vendors and a 5K to the community.
The 2020 edition went into a holding pattern in April once the COVID-19 pandemic began, with organizers looking at alternate dates for the event, considering putting something together to hold in conjunction with Mt. Carroll's Independence Day celebrations, but ultimately calling things off.
Even in the spring, Ballard said organizers were looking at other options, and that ultimately turned into a movie night on the Quad.
"We're on the Quad. We're gathering as a community," Ballard said. "That's what it's all about, so it's not a music festival, it's something small, but it reminds everybody that there will be a time that we'll be able to gather again."
The movie night also served as a debut of sorts for the stage, which got a fresh coat of paint. Ballard and 15 to 20 others came to spruce it up, with members of the community even dropping by the lumber yard where Ballard got the supplies to pay off part of his bill.
"We got a new deck on it last year and a new roof on it this year," Ballard said. "We're looking forward to 20, 30 years of boot-stomping music on that thing."
Mayfest organizers plan to keep the movie nights going with a couple planned for October, including a showing of "Hard Knox," the 1984 movie filmed in Mt. Carroll which stars Robert Conrad as a retired fighter pilot who leads a military school.
"We're really looking at expanding just to see what Mayfest can look like in the era of COVID," Ballard said.
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