The Little Town That Made It Big  

Make a detour off Interstate-70 to Casey to grab a few selfies every bit as epic as the giant objects that fill the town.

Casey takes its motto, “Big Things in a Small Town,” seriously. Consider: a 30-foot golf tee weighing in at 6,659 pounds, a pencil that’s 32 feet long, and a 32-foot-tall mailbox where you can actually send mail.  

The southeast Illinois town of 2,744 boasts eight objects recognized by Guinness World Records and a bunch of other oversize items—all of them interactive. You can take a selfie swinging in the birdcage, posing on the pitchfork or peeking in the wooden clogs.  

This trip into Alice in Wonderland meets Land of the Giants rose from the imagination of lifelong resident, businessman and philanthropist Jim Bolin.

A decade ago during a vacation, Jim and his family brainstormed the idea of opening a tea shop. But Jim wanted to do more to bolster his community.

“I decided if we were going to do this, we would have to think outside the box,” he says. 

 

He married his love of wind chimes with the new business idea and capitalized on the materials and manufacturing capabilities of his family-owned pipeline and tank maintenance company, Bolin Enterprises. The result: 54-foot-tall wind chimes acknowledged by Guinness in 2011. (The tea shop happened, too: Whitling Whimsy Cafe opened in 2012.) 

Visitors prompted Jim to add to the collection, which now includes six sculptures within a three-block area. Some are designed for and located at related businesses, such as the knitting needles and crochet hook at The Yarn Studio, a 1-ton pitchfork at Richard’s Farm, softball bats at the USA Softball of Illinois Hall of Fame (Fairview Park) and a rocking horse at J-JET Rentals, which sells horse feed and other retail items. 

Jim has more sculptures planned in Casey and surrounding communities: a teeter-totter and a gavel. He plans to keep working until he reaches 12 world records. After that? Build enough to support a rotating display.  

Visitors can swing by the Big Things in a Small Town Workshop to check out in-progress sculptures. “I had no idea it was going to turn into this,” Jim says. “It’s helping our town be excited about being Casey again.”

 

Casey's Great Eight

1. Wind Chimes  

Pull a rope to make the 54-foot chimes sway and sing.

2. Golf Tee 

Swing by the Casey Country Club to see the 30-foot tee.

3. Knitting Needles 

Stretch next to the 13-foot needles at The Yarn Studio (sorry, no pole vaulting). Shop for knitting, crochet and weaving supplies at the downtown business. 

4. Crochet Hook

Test your height against the 6-foot hook, also at The Yarn Studio.

5. Rocking Chair  

Pose in front of the 56-foot-tall chair perched in front of City Hall.

6. Pitchfork 

Stop by Richard’s Farm for comfort food (try the 1-pound chop) and see the 60-foot garden implement. 

7. Mailbox

Send a note from the downtown landmark.

8. Wooden Shoes  

Step inside Casey’s Candy Depot to see the 12-foot clogs. Load up on bulk candy (40 saltwater taffy flavors and 12 types of fudge). 

When you go

Stay downtown in a restored brick building at Eighteen-Ninety Sleepover.

 

by Bob Stefko and Kelly Roberson

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