A metro-east town won a statewide award recently for planning the best party on a small budget to celebrate the solar eclipse of 2017.
Waterloo, with a population of less than 10,000, attracted roughly 7,500 visitors from nine countries, at least 285 American cities and 26 states to its "Solarbration" on Aug. 21 at the Monroe County Fairgrounds.
The Illinois Department of Tourism honored Waterloo for the celebration, giving the city the "Best Event or Festival" award at this year's Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards in Chicago.
"As a small community it feels pretty good to attract that many people from all across the country and nine other countries," said Sarah Deutch, community relations coordinator for the city. "It's quite an honor to be recognized for the hard work we put into the event."
The city won in the category of cities that spent $500,000 or less on the celebration.
Visitors came from Bolivia, Canada, England, India, Ireland, Russia, The Netherlands, Turkey and Wales, according to a news release from the city.
Live music, local food, vendors and educational presentations kept the crowds entertained until they could experience the 2 minutes and 10 seconds of totality.
Waterloo City Council members presented the award at Monday's city council meeting.