MORRIS – Area families found something fun to do indoors last weekend on a snow-packed Saturday morning.
The Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and the Channahon and Minooka Chamber of Commerce teamed up to host Family Fest, a local business expo aimed at adults, with plenty of activities for the kids.
Grundy County Chamber Executive Director Christina Van Yperen said the idea behind the event is two-fold.
“It’s the middle of winter,” she said, “and there’s not a lot going on to keep kids busy, with all their energy ... And parents can learn more about what’s going on in Grundy County.”
The businesses and not-for-profit agencies attended booths full of information and giveaways, games and activities. The adults could pick up some information and ask questions while their children were occupied with the fun.
Van Yperen said the event was well-attended and successful, despite the previous night’s snowfall. About 800 people came through the event, she said.
“We were a little worried with the snow,” she said, “but this morning the roads were clear.”
Booths were held by banks, fitness centers, cosmetic companies, counseling services, plumbers, Shaw Media, Morris YMCA, Morris Police Department, the Joliet Slammers, Joliet Hospice and a lot more – 50 in all.
Kids strolled the aisles with painted faces, holding balloons or slushees.
Gawain Spangler, 4, of Wilmington, was there with his mother, Carolyn. Gawain said he particularly enjoyed the lizard, turtle and frog at The Traveling World of Reptiles show. His favorite was the snake.
Both Gawain and his mother also colored pictures at United Way of Grundy County’s booth. Executive Director Karen Nall said the pictures colored at the event would be attached to the meals distributed this month for Meals on Wheels, a member organization of United Way.
The Lions Club of Morris gave free vision screenings to adults and children at the festival. Morris optometrist Dr. George Roebuck, with Roebuck Family Eyecare, said an autorefractor was used to look at the eyes and determine an approximate eye strength.
The group screened around 60 children that day and found about 10 children and several adults who needed glasses.
Lions Club member Don Reiers said the not-for-profit organization offers exams and glasses to people in need. An example, he said, was a 14-year-old boy whose family could not afford to buy him glasses. He had never been able to see the blackboard at school, and the Lions Club provided him with a full exam and a pair of glasses.
Roebuck said parents should make sure their children get their eyes checked each year, and adults should have theirs checked every two years or, if they wear prescription lenses or contacts, every year.
Services offered by 12 not-for-profit agencies were highlighted at the event by the group GiveGrundy. Members include such agencies as Grundy County P.A.D.S., We Care, Grundy County Habitat for Humanity, Community Nutrition, Veterans Assistance Commission, Community Foundation of Grundy County and Illinois Valley Industries.
Matthew Hebeda and Liam Gaynor were at the event representing the Minooka Police Department Explorer Post 444, an organization that Gaynor said trains those ages 16-21 in law enforcement.
“We train as police officers,” Gaynor said. “It gives us an idea of what law enforcement is like.”
The explorers were accompanied by McGruff the Crime Dog and Eddie the Eagle. Hebeda said they were there to share information about the program and to encourage people to sign up.