Straw sculpting showcase in Mount Morris

© 2018-Ogle County Life

MOUNT MORRIS – Three local residents are showcasing their talents in a unique competition taking place in Mount Morris this month.
Mount Morris is home to the 2017 U.S. National Straw Sculpting Competition, happening now until Aug. 27. The event features eight sculptures all crafted using straw.
Rochelle resident Bill Schermerhorn submitted his entry, “Straw-ship Enterprise,” built to scale, identical to the spaceship featured in the TV show, “Star Trek.” Schermerhorn said he is a fan of the show and remembers telling Fran Volz last year at the straw sculpting competition, which was held in Rochelle, he wanted to make one.
“I took the blueprint off of the internet, built the framework for it, and used plywood for the wings to get the shape,” Schermerhorn said. “I scaled the whole thing and made it to scale.”
Schermerhorn, who works in construction, said the spaceship took about a week or so to build. He incorporated some leftover materials and a little math when determining the scaled-down size of the ship.
“It is interesting that straw really doesn’t have borders, it’s just a covering, and to make straw do something different than what it normally does,” Schermerhorn said. “Look at some of the other competitors, like the hair on the gorilla, or the ballerina. It looks like hair rather than straw. It is a challenge … and all the ways to make it look different.”
Volz, also a Rochelle resident, is no stranger to artistic endeavors, fashioning sculptures from snow and last year created the iconic Statue of Liberty straw statue on IL Route 38. Volz is the advisor for this year’s straw sculpting competition, lending his thoughts and ideas for the two-week event.
“I use the former Moore’s Hardware building [in downtown Rochelle], and the Just For Kix dance group is in the building next door,” Volz said. “Listening to the music inspired me to create a ballerina. It took a lot of engineering, and about a month and a half to make the 10-foot tall statue.”
Rochelle resident Danica Rogers along with Seth Gittleson created their own version of King Kong scaling a skyscraper, titled “It’s on like ‘straw’nkey Kong.”
The U.S. National Straw Sculpting Competition is now until Aug. 27 in Mount Morris near the band shell on the historic Mount Morris campus. For more details, visit

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