A Few HerrinFesta 2018 Parade Pix

HerrinFesta Italiana is a Memorial Day Weekend tradition in Herrin, Illinois.

We only made it to the end of the parade this year, but these are a few of the things we saw.


It’s Festa Time!

HerrinFesta Italiana kicked off this week in Herrin. The event has been a Memorial Day Weekend tradition in Southern Illinois since its beginning in 1991 and celebrates Herrin’s Italian heritage.

There are two entrances to the Festa: The Piaza and The Midway. An admission fee is required for many of the concerts in the Piaza, but admission to the Midway is free. While beverages requiring proof that one is 21 years of age or older are sold within the Piaza area, (with the exception of Faith & Family night,) they are not permitted on the Midway. A carnival, food, and shopping opportunities make up the Midway.

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 not an option when a heavy downpour and lightning storm interrupted the REO Speedwagon concert. (It was still a great performance as the band played as long as feasibly possible.) The 2018 line up includes The Beach Boys, Slaughter, Queensryche, and a first for the event, Faith & Family Night at the Festa with Natalie Grant and Jordan Feliz.

Some of the special events that people look forward to each year include the parade, bocce ball, pasta eating contests, and the Road Races. This Year’s HerrinFesta Parade Grand Marshalls are Mayor Steve and Sharon Frattini. On May 21, Lexie Tourville was crowned Miss HerrinFesta Italiana 2018.

More information is available at http://www.herrinfesta.com

Photos from Past Years at the Festa:

Stronger Together

On this Martin Luther King Day, I am reminded how one of the things I love so much about Southern Illinois is its diversity. We don’t all have to look alike, sound alike, or even prefer the same foods to be a community. We may share a common region, but not all being carbon copies of each other is a good thing. I am by no means a carpenter, but I have seen things made that have different shaped interlocking parts. Those different parts coming together make the object stronger than just straight boards and nails.

Yes, English is our primary language. However, many folks do know another language as part of their family heritage or tradition, and I love that. As someone who spent a portion of grad school as the only one in my apartment who was not from Costa Rica, it is comforting for me to hear families speaking in Spanish. (Of course, that does depend on the tone of voice and words used…)

I also love that we have been blessed with people from many backgrounds sharing their art and cuisine. For example, in Carbondale, you can have Mediterranean, Italian, Indian, and array of other food choices. Personally, I am fascinated by the choice of ingredients at Monah’s International Grocery Store and Tienda Paisano. As someone who loves to cook, I am like a kid in a toy store looking at all of the possibilities at both stores.

We are fortunate to be a region where our people are as beautifully diverse as our landscape. There are towns with a long history of heritage from other countries that share their traditions through community celebrations like Herrinfesta Italiana in Herrin and Fruehlingsfest in Maeystown. There are educational opportunities at places like the African American Museum of Southern Illinois in Carbondale and the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.

Southern Illinois is like a beautiful, colorful quilt made of many different types of fabric woven together. Each block is beautiful on its own, but together we become even stronger as we support each other.