Let Freedom Ring Festival celebrates Independence Day

Organizers: Fireworks a big hit with attendees

MT. MORRIS — Village President Phil Labash has watched July 4 fireworks in Mt. Morris for more than 30 years.

This year was the best show yet, he said.

It’s a comment Let Freedom Ring Committee Chairperson Tiffany West said she’s been hearing a lot.

They hired a new company this year — Spectrum Pyrotechnics — and was told that, next year, there will be “more time to put on a better show,” West said.

“So I’m looking forward to next year’s already,” she said.

More than 800 people attended the festival’s kickoff on July 2, West said, noting that the great weather helped.

The 2020 and 2021 kings and queens were crowned June 30. Kelsi Morris and Brady Schwartz took the 2020 crowns and Katelyn Bowers and Emmett Peterson claimed the 2021 royalty rights.

Friday events included the Jonas Fultz Memorial Car Cruise that turned into more of a car show, as participants wanted to stay and listen to the music, according to West. Other events were a craft fair, silent auction and bake sale, Encore! Mt. Morris’ art show and more.

Among Saturday’s offerings was the 19th Annual Lois Nelson Memorial Walk, kids’ water fights, a watermelon eating contest and a kiddie parade.

On Sunday, Mt. Morris firefighters served more than 1,000 people breakfast, West said. Melissa Nicholson hosted the patriotic program, and there was a “nice line-up” for ringing the official Illinois Freedom Bell—a Fourth of July ritual.

There were 35 parade entries , not as many as usual, but understandable given all the other area festivals having parades the same day, West said.

The royalty choice float winner was Jordan Creek Farms with their decorated horses, ponies, and riders, while the most patriotic entry went to Blackhawk Crossing 4-H Club. The best overall parade entry was Trinity Lutheran Church’s float.

“I thought the festival went really well,” Labash said. “It seemed like there was a crowd uptown (the whole time). And I appreciate the efforts in pulling all this together — especially with COVID, it was somewhat of a shortened timeline.”

Early on, committee members tried to plan for this year’s festival. “If we’re able to do it, we’re going to go ahead and try to do as much as we can,” West said.

As guidelines and regulations were put in place, organizers were able to plan a bit more, though the inability to do as many fundraisers during the preceding year did have some impact, West said.

“We have big plans to continue our fundraising, because we definitely liked our fireworks this year,” West said.

One part of the plan? Raffling off rights to “lighting” the first firework of 2022. That said, there’s no actual matches involved.

“They have a switchboard, so all you have to do is flip the switch,” West said.