HerrinFesta Italiana has been a Memorial Day Weekend tradition in Southern Illinois since it started 1991. The event celebrates Herrin’s Italian heritage. Festa, an alias of the festival, became one of millions of events cancelled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Southern Illinois’ festival that signals the unofficial beginning of summer has finally returned to Herrin.
A carnival, food, and shopping opportunities make up the Midway. As indicated on the festival’s website, ride armbands are $25 per day unless purchased prior to midnight on May 26 for $20 each with a $2.99 service charge per order through https://www.herrinfesta.com/
Over the years, many local and famous acts have graced the HerrinFesta stage in the Piaza. Some of these include Survivor, Firehouse, 38 Special, Drew Baldridge, and Three Doors Down. 2015 became known as “The Year That Riding the Storm Out Was So Not An Option” due to a heavy downpour and lightning storm interrupting the REO Speedwagon concert. The 2018 line up included The Beach Boys, Slaughter, Queensryche, and Faith & Family Night at the Festa with Natalie Grant and Jordan Feliz.
This year, with some COVID-19 restrictions still in place and the aftermath of over a year of sheltering in place and quarantining, no national bands have yet been announced. However, Festa goers will be treated to free local music in the Beverage Garden Tent beginning at 6:30 pm on Friday through Sunday night. Taylor Made will play on Friday evening. Saturday night features Most Wanted. Dave Clark will take the stage on Sunday night.
Some of the special events that people look forward to each year include the parade, bocce ball, pasta eating contests, and the Road Races. The second annual Jeep Poker Run takes place on May 31. May 28 will be the HerrinFesta Italiana Golf Tournament. The pageants, baby contests, and a prayer breakfasts are other popular events. This year’s events so includes the Hartley Fine Art Exhibit at 100 South Park Avenue.
On May 27, Herrin Festa Italiana Goes to the Movies… An Italian film, Va’Sentiero (Follow the Trail) subtitled in English, will be shown at the Herrin City Library from 6-7pm. The film’s Director, Andrea Buonopane, granted permission for its public viewing.
The 2021 Talent Contest, hosted by Herrin Woman’s Club and Karen Sala, President, kicked off the week of HerrinFesta Italiana events. The winners were named as follows:
James Windings, Herrin;
Travis Westbrook, Carterville
Karen Sala, director
Brax Melvin, West Frankfort
Rebekah Crouse, Herrin
Tara Kay Tanner, Johnston City. Knox Robbins, Mulkeytown
Kyler Followell, Benton
This Year’s (and Last Year’s) HerrinFesta Parade Grand Marshalls are Tom DeChristina and Marilyn Matthews Ruppel. Both are known for their long-term involvement within the Herrin community and support if its people and events. The couple of 26 years will lead the Grand Festa Parade on Saturday, May 29, at 11 am.
HerrinFesta Lifetime Achievement 2020 – 2021 was awarded to Herrin native Richard “Itch” Jones. As a member of eight different sports Hall of Fames, he has recognized that his grade school through high school education provided him with a quality foundation. Mr. Jones is listed among the 20 winningest coaches in NCAA Baseball Division 1. He earned his master’s degree in physical education at SIU-Carbondale, where he played baseball and basketball, in 1965. Mr. Jones also played for the Baltimore Oreos minor-league system.
More information is available at http://www.herrinfesta.com