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Straw sculpting contest begins Friday in village

The third annual U.S. National Straw Sculpting Competition opens Friday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. in downtown Mt. Morris.

New sculptures are coming to the campus square for this unique presentation of fine art in straw. 

The sculptures will be on display each day through Sunday, Aug. 26. 

This year’s competition will be judged for two awards, “People’s Choice” public voting by all visitors, and “Artist’s Choice” voting by the competing sculptors. 

The winners will be announced during the festival’s grand finale weekend Aug. 25-26. 

Blacksmith demos will be featured on Saturday, Aug. 25, along with mechanical bull riding, round bale races, square dancing in the street (experienced and inexperienced all welcome), and food in the evening with Lyle Grobe & the Rhythm Ramblers live on the band shell stage. 

The village will celebrate the Illinois Bicentennial with historical hay wagon tours on Sunday, Aug. 26.  

Other activities during the straw sculpting competition include Fiber Art Through Time, a fine arts exhibit in Encore’s Old Sandstone Gallery, and live music on the campus. 

Friday night Jamboree features Illinois Rail (bluegrass) on Aug. 10, Kyle Lacy and Harlem River Noise (rockabilly) on Aug. 17, and The Barb City Stompers (swing jazz) on Aug. 24. 

Jamboree is on the band shell stage every Friday evening in the summer from 7 to 9 p.m. 

Additional new opportunities for participation in the festival include:

• The Big Bison Community Build — members of the greater community including visitors are invited to help build a larger than life size straw bison on Ill. 64 behind Union Savings Bank. See how straw sculptures are built and enjoy some hands on time helping create something special.

• The Straw Jam Stage — a new informal live music venue in the shade, next to the straw sculptures. Encore is inviting musicians to sign up and play a freely given set anytime the schedule is open during the straw competition. Sign-up details, along with information on all the events is available online at

Encore! Mt. Morris is composed of volunteers committed to developing Mt. Morris into a unique, thriving rural and cultural arts destination in northwest Illinois. 

ENCORE! Mt. Morris is a cultural initiative of the Mt. Morris Economic Development Corp. 

Volunteers and donations are welcome. 

Learn more at, also on Facebook.

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