Big Things in a Small Town

World's largest roadside attractions in Casey, IL

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Big Things in a Small Town

Taylor Stern, Staff Writer

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With a population of just over 3,500 locals, Casey, Illinois has peaked the interest of over 7,000 travelers both nationally and internationally. Thanks to the unusually large attractions, the tiny town of Casey has over doubled its size in travelers. Last December, I made the two-and-a-half hour trip to be one of those travelers.
Known for their motto, “Big Things, Small Town,” Casey has been widely recognized with eight Guinness World Records for some of the world’s largest roadside attractions in the world. Although only eight hold world records, there is a total of 16 large attractions in the whole town. Many of the large attractions such as the world’s largest rocking chair, wind chime, pitchfork, mailbox, and golf tee all line the same street with many of the rest either inside stores or just a three minute drive away.
My visit began immediately following our last final before winter break. After getting out of school, my friend, junior Emily Fidell, met me at my house to pack clothes and some road snacks and we promptly got on our way. For us, the 150 minute drive going east on I-270 was made a bit longer due to the unforeseen foggy, rainy weather we had to drive through, but the trip did not feel long at all. The drive there even yielded some of its own large attractions as we passed the World’s Largest Cross just on the side of the highway as we passed through Effingham, Illinois.
The first attraction we pulled up to in Casey was the World’s Largest Wind Chime. This sight was the town’s very first attempt at a world record in 2011 so we made it the first one to see. The structure stands at 56 feet tall with the longest chime hanging down at 42 feet. At the foot of the structure hung a giant rope to pull on that triggered the chime to sound since actual wind couldn’t be powerful enough. Right beside the wind chime was a small café filled with wind chime memorabilia. There were “W’s” hidden all over the place in the menu, the tiling, and murals painted onto the ceiling. There were many souvenir options such as wind chime paintings, key chains, magnets, and mini models of the famous large one. As a token of my visit, I bought my own wind chime and I made two pressed penny souvenirs to take with me. Beyond the gift shop-esque interior, the whole exterior of the establishment was covered in information and details about the chime, as well as the town as a whole, winding all the way around to a guest book to sign near the entrance.
Directly across the street was the World’s Largest Rocking Chair which had a lot less commotion surrounding it at the forefront, but is said to have been the hardest large attraction to build of all. The chair stands at 56 feet tall weighing 46,200 pounds. It took an entire two years to build and it wasn’t added to the map until October of 2015. Right next to the chair, there even seemed to be a work-in-progress see-saw that was in the midst of being added to Casey’s impressive resume.
On the other side of the chair stood the large pencil. The pencil, along with many other structures in the town, was not necessarily claiming to be the world’s largest but it was still a staple of the town. Casey’s tagline, “Small town, Big things,” pertains to both the seven world record holders as well as the other large items plotted throughout the streets.
Just a few stores down from the pencil was the World’s Largest Crochet Hook and Knitting Needles. These were the first attractions that were actually inside of a store as opposed to being on the outside. These two gained their world record in 2013 after a local yarn boutique owner had to physically use the 13 foot long knitting needles to make a 10×10 square before they could even be considered for the title. The store was unfortunately closed by the time we reached it, but luckily, the two feats were standing in the storefront right by the front window so we could still admire and take pictures of them by the light of the streetlights.
A few more feet down from that was the World’s Largest Birdcage. This was the second interactive structure we came across aside from thee windchime. The cage door opened for you to go inside and inside sat a swing which was perfect for taking a moment to relax and it made a really cute feature for pictures.
Directly across the street from this was potentially my favorite attraction: the World’s Largest Mailbox. The mailbox was exciting because to claim the title, it had to be fully functional. This meant the structure was built so that you could actually climb a staircase to get inside the mailbox’s mouth and, once inside, there was even a mailslot you could drop letters inside of. When placing letters in the dropbox, the flag on the side raised up and the mail from the inside actually got sent out. This made a really cute location for pictures since you really got to be inside the mailbox.
Right behind the mailbox and inside a candy store was the World’s Largest Pair of Wooden Shoes, or Clogs. These shoes were my second favorite sight. The wooden shoes were named World’s Largest in 2015 weighing 2,500 pounds each. These shoes were so big that 15 people managed to fit inside of just one. The Clogs were a highlight for me because while inside the candy shop, Casey’s Candy Depot, that they reside in, I spent close to 20 minutes talking to the store owner. He offered us a homemade truffle and some taffy and was more than happy to tell us a bit about the town. He then showed us his guest book and informed us that he had four guest books completely filled up with over 7,000 signatures of people ranging from as local as it gets to travelers from all other six continents, most commonly being Europe. He said most of the international travelers visited with the specific purpose of seeing the large attractions while more of the national travelers tend to be road tripping through the states and see the signs for large things on the way and decide to take the exit out of curiosity.
It was this same man who recommended a local establishment for us to eat dinner at before leaving later that night. But before we went to dinner, we had a few more sights to see. The next place we went was the first attraction on a different street than the rest. Just a short 3 minute drive away, the World’s Largest Pitchfork was made to sit outside of the town’s staple farm, but the once working farm eventually became a homestyle barbeque restaurant with the pitchfork sitting in the parking lot. The pitchfork claimed it’s title in 2015 being 60 ft long and 1940 pounds.
Near that, the golf tee sits as encouragement and promotion for the town’s public golf course. The tee was made in 2013 and is 30.5 ft tall and weighs 6,659 pounds. Unfortunately for us, by the time we made it to the tee, it had already gotten dark so it had to be our last stop. The large structures we didn’t get to see before the sun set were the large ruler, wooden token coin, inchworm, spinning top, baseball bat, rocking horse, minion, and ear of corn statue.
Thanks to the peculiarity of some of the largest roadside attractions in the world combined with the welcoming atmosphere of everyone in the town, Casey truly made its mark on me during my visit. As small a town as it was, the pride the locals had in their city made the environment so enjoyable to be a part of. My advice for anyone considering a mini road-trip soon or a spontaneous day-trip adventure, I’d make sure to keep Casey in the back of your minds.