Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
“Wine and art just go together,” says Jim Ellis, a local of Palestine and owner of The Village Framery, and the quote sums up the ideas behind the Wabash Valley Wine and Art Festival.
The 14th annual Wabash Valley Wine and Art Festival is only four months away. This festival is held in Palestine, Illinois and this year it is taking place on October first and second. The festival is run by the Palestine Development Association as well as the village of Palestine. Wine is a big part of the community here, which is the reason this festival began. In 2003, “Pioneer Winery”, a local Palestine winery, wanted to promote their business, as well as other wineries around the area, so they decided to start the festival. The festival is also a great way to promote Palestine, and local or non-local artists.
This festival is always a great success, and hopes are high for this upcoming fest. What makes the Wine and Art Festival so successful is the people who come to enjoy the fun. People from all around the community and surrounding communities partake in the festivities. However, the fun is not reserved for the locals as the festival also attracts people from out of state. Last year 2,500 wine tasting tickets were sold, and it was estimated that three times that many people attended the event for the food, entertainment, and art aspects.
Art booths that are set up throughout the main street in Palestine contain art that is less like a craft fair and more like a fine art gallery. Some antique booths set up along with the art booths. Artists set up booths to showcase and sell their art. The artists come from all over the state, and some even come from our of state to sell their art.
Each year there is a large selection of wines to taste, this year 15 different wineries are going to be participating in the festival. Some of this year’s wineries include: Sleepy Creek Vineyards from Fairmount, Illinois, Lincoln Heritage Winery from Cobden, Illinois, and Vahling Vineyards from Stewardson, Illinois. There is always a large selection of food to go along with the wine. For this year’s festival around 50 food and art vendors are scheduled to attend. The Wine and Art Festival stays away from the traditional “fair foods.” Ellis says they like to have “different types of cuisine,” such as lasagna available. Most of the food is brought by local businesses.
New musical entertainment comes every year. However, according to Ellis, you can always expect the music to be soft and “turned down” so that people don’t have issues talking with one another. The festival likes to have music entertainment that is acoustic and on the folk music spectrum. Members of the community are welcome to bring their instruments and play their music anywhere on Main Street. Other forms of entertainment include car and motorcycle shows. Robinson Car Connection, from Robinson has brought cars in for the show for years, so they may be at the festival again this year.
Ellis says, “the festival is just really nice, casual, adult fun.”