There is no question that ‘staycations,’ road trips, and outdoor adventures have exploded in popularity this year, due in part to the pandemic. A local family prides themselves on visiting countless parks, nature preserves hiking trails and more, all throughout the country. Some of their favorite exploration days have come right here in ILLINOISouth! The outdoor adventures of the Midwest Nomad Family are great to follow along with, as they give families several ideas of things to do. We are honored to have them as our guest blog this month, especially as they highlight Casey, and all of their ‘Big Things in a Small Town’ attractions! Please check out the Midwest Nomad Family on their website linked in earlier in the paragraph or follow them on Facebook and Instagram!
At first glance the tiny town of Casey appears just like any other location in small town America. Like many small towns, this spot just off I-70 in eastern Illinois has seen a loss in population and manufacturing as people and jobs moved on to bigger cities. However, the town of Casey has reinvented itself in a big way.
It all started when one of the residents decided to try and fight the decline by attracting more attention and business back to his hometown. The owner of a pipeline maintenance company in town, Jim Bolin, decided to use materials from his business to build a wind chime as a town attraction. Not just any wind chime but a really, really, big chime which became the World’s Largest Wind Chime and started a trend of big things and big changes for the town.
Now the town of Casey boasts an impressive collection of big things. Some of them are certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Largest while some are not record breakers but just plain big. We paid a visit last summer to check out all of Casey’s small town charm and whimsical big things.
Even more impressive is the fact that all of the big items are made right in town at the Big Things in a Small Town Workshop. The workshop is even open to visitors so you can take a peek at the next big item in progress that Jim has dreamed up. Most of the big things are made of recycled materials such as the old telephone poles that were used to make the World’s Largest Rocking Chair. While you can’t climb into the chair, it makes an impressive display in a beautiful park like setting.
Across the street from the rocking chair is the World’s Largest Teeter Totter. To be certified by the Guinness Book of Records, all items must be functional. So the rocking chair can technically rock and the teeter totter can technically teeter when not anchored down.
The World’s Largest Mailbox is a crowd favorite. You can climb up the steps inside to the top for a great view of Main Street. You can even purchase a postcard to mail from the fully functional mailbox and watch the flag raise up.
Tucked away behind the mailbox and over a cute little bridge is a candy shop. Not only can you find delicious treats and souvenirs in the charming store, but this is also the location of the World’s Largest Wooden Shoes.
It’s not a big thing, but for any one who is train fan, a small railroad display is located next to the store as well. Continuing on through downtown you can find several more Big Things. A bird cage makes a nice photo op.
It’s not the world’s largest, but this giant pencil is still impressive. I also love that each of the big things has a Bible verse added that relates to the object. The pencil features a verse from Proverbs 3:3, Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
You can find more big items on Main Street such as the former World’s Largest Knitting Needles and Crochet Hook. (They owned the title before being beat out in 2017 by a larger set.) In case you need to measure something really big, Casey has a ruler for that. The library boasts a fun and huge bookworm out front.
Our kids especially enjoyed spinning the really big top.
The town also boasts the World’s Largest Pitchfork, Golf Tee, Barber Pole, Key, and Twizzle Spoon. The World’s Largest Golf Driver will also be on display soon. Keep an eye out while you explore for other big things scattered throughout the town. If you are hungry after all that exploring there are several places in town to eat. The Whitling Whimsy Cafe is located next to the wind chime and has great soups and sandwiches as well as breakfast items. Richards Farm restaurant is the location of the World’s Largest Pitchfork. There are also shops on Main Street to satisfy a sweet tooth with a cupcake or ice cream treat. If you don’t mind a short drive, the Moonshine Store in Moonshine, IL (whopping population of 2) is well known for their burgers. We found quite a crowd when we arrived for lunch but the line moves fast. The grill closes at 12:30 sharp and they take cash or check only.
The town of Casey makes a great road trip destination. It’s a little over 2 hours from St. Louis or a fun detour if traveling on I-70 through eastern Illinois. Casey is the perfect modern version of the classic roadside attraction. It’s amazing to see how one man’s big idea has transformed this small town. You can find more info and printable map of all the big things HERE. Who knows what big things will show up in town next?