A Publication of WTVP

In the State of Illinois, tourism is a $27 billion industry. Here in Morton, the Pumpkin Capital of the World, we try to take advantage of the many opportunities for visitors to spend time in our village. Morton’s great location at the crossroads of I-74 and I-155, along with its proximity between Peoria and Bloomington, makes it an attractive place for conventions, meetings and family reunions. In 1994, Morton began to experience development along the interstate in the form of hotels, restaurants, truck repair and supply shops, and trucking firms. With this new growth, came ideas of how to promote some of the activities the citizens of Morton loved.

Throughout the 30 years of youth sports programs in Morton, volunteers from baseball, soccer, football and softball groups have all worked on the fields and facilities to improve the playing and spectator side of the venues. Each group began holding small tournaments, regional playoffs or partnering with East Peoria and Peoria in large area tournaments that needed practice or extra playing fields. The money raised from these events was put back into the facilities, and each year got bigger and better. In 2010, 15 tournaments or regional playoffs were held in Morton. The Blaze Soccer Classic is a spring and fall invitational that brings over 130 teams together each meet. Families like to play in Morton because the facilities are well kept, the fields are in great condition, the cost for food and lodging are less than traveling to a larger city, and the friendly hometown atmosphere is inviting.

The Morton Youth Baseball Association is in the middle of a capital campaign to build a new field at their complex on the west side of town. In partnership with the Morton School District, the group will be improving the far north field on this property to be used for the high school baseball games, and a new field will be built on the south side to be used by the junior high. More parking and a new concession area will allow bigger tournaments and give Morton the opportunity to host some state events.

Morton is also host to an annual cruise-in that brings 300 cars to Main Street each summer. This year, mark your calendar for July 16th to join us for the Mid-West Cruisers, Rusty Rockers, and River Valley Drifter Cruise from 4 to 9pm. Car enthusiasts love the fact that we close off Main Street and let the drivers “cruise,” not just park. The Dairy Queen and root beer stand are on the route, as are lots of friendly people to visit with as you catch a piece of nostalgia in a small town on a Saturday night while listening to ‘50s and ‘60s music.

Morton has two great festivals, the 45th Pumpkin Festival from September 15th to 18th, and the 15th Morton Punkin Chuckin Contest from October 16th to 17th. Though these events have been around for quite some time, they continue to change. Someone is always thinking of something new to add or a way to make what was being done different and exciting. The Punkin Chuckin committee has been instrumental in helping other Midwest communities start their own events, which means more machines built for other places travel to participate in Morton’s event, the second oldest contest in the nation. Last year we hosted the first all-female team, who showed up with a pink air cannon that gave some of the guys a real run for their money.

Morton is proud to be the new home for what was the Proctor Cycling Classic that was held in Peoria for 23 years. Organizers of the event had an opportunity to change direction this year and were looking for a smaller community that would be willing to help them grow their event into a two-day festival. The Village of Morton wanted to be a part of that challenge, and so under the sponsorship of one of the area’s fine banking institutions, the new Morton Community Bank Cycling Classic will be racing on Main Street in downtown Morton on August 20, 2011. An art show, craft and vendor area, great food vendors, and kids’ events will be part of what Morton hopes will be a long and growing relationship with the Peoria Bicycle Club.

The 2nd annual Taste of Morton event on May 26th at the Field Shopping Center will kick off the summer fun in Morton. The Morton Fine Arts Association holds free concerts in Idlewood Park every Thursday night starting June 23rd. Morton is not very far from where you live; come discover the special events and activities in a great little town. Information on all that’s happening can be found at