In ILLINOISouth there are so many people who make the region what it is. We are talking about local business owners, volunteers, and community leaders who pour their heart and soul into making southern Illinois great. In our ‘Meet a Local’ series, we are focusing on the amazing cast of characters that call ILLINOISouth home.
Just off Interstate 70 in Clark County lies the small town of Casey. This quiet community of 2,700 people has become quite the engine of tourism since 2011, thanks to the work of local businessman Jim Bolin. A little over a decade ago, Bolin’s wife, mother, and daughter convinced him that they should open a tea shop. Jim wanted to take it a step further and come up with something that would draw people off the interstate. A few days later while Bolin was at home listening to the windchimes on his porch, he got to thinking about how big the World’s Largest Windchime might be. His company Bolin Enterprises does a lot of pipeline work – so designing and building a giant windchime made of pipes seemed logical. Bolin and his crew started building the World’s Largest Windchime in 2009 and finished it in 2011. It stands at a whopping 49 feet and can actually be rung by visitors with a rope that hangs near the Windchime. Once the project was complete, it didn’t take long for folks to start flocking into town. “That’s when I noticed all of the people started coming through, and that’s how it all began,” Bolin explains. “The whole focus of what we’re doing has changed since then, I was just going to build one item to create traffic and go from there, but we saw it was doing for our town and the amount of people it was bringing off the interstate, so our family business wanted to do more,” adds Bolin.
Bolin has certainly done more, and in a BIG WAY (pun intended). Over the last eleven years there have been several more large additions to Casey, which is now known as ‘Big Things in a Small Town.’ There are twelve Guinness World Record holders, 11 of them reside in Casey while the World’s Largest Gavel sits at the Clark County Courthouse in Marshall. Aside from the record holders, there are several other big things placed throughout Casey including a fun bookworm in front of the library, and a functioning birdcage near the World’s Largest Mailbox. Even businesses like Greathouse of Pizza and Cilantro’s Grill and Cantina have jumped on the bandwagon, creating a pizza slicer and a taco to go in front of their restaurants. With new attractions and foot-traffic, new businesses have also come to town. There are now two coffee shops, a soft pretzel restaurant, and much more that have opened up in Casey since Bolin started adding all of the World’s Largest items.
All of this has happened because of Bolin’s vision to create something larger than life. Now his community is thriving, and families from all over the country are adding Casey to their bucket lists. “It’s really joyous to see the family unit come to town. You got kids, grandparents, we’ve got aunts and uncles bringing kids. Just to see the look in their eyes and the smile on their face, it’s worth a whole lot,” Bolin says while smiling.
*To take a virtual tour of all the Big Things in Casey, click HERE to watch our YouTube video.
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