HerrinFesta Italiana is the harbinger of summer. Herrinites from near and far look to that week-end in May as the official springboard for that all too short season of barbecues, baseball games, and long, hot Southern Illinois summer days. To those who plan the many activities of Festa, that week-end doesn’t seem like a far away dream. This year the dates are May 22 through 26, and one year is often just barely enough time to get everything in order for opening day. The HerrinFesta Italiana Art Exhibition is one such example. This year’s chairperson Peggy McPhillips, vice-president of Little Egypt Art Association (LEAA), has been busy with all the behind the scenes work that goes into staging this event, as well as a special exhibit by patients at Herrin Hospital.
Starting in January, the entry forms for the art and poster contests are created and mailed out. Volunteers help with this process, and over 500 are mailed, along with the additional ones that are hand delivered to local high school art instructors and area businesses. Entry forms can also be found online at www.herrinfesta.com. This effort is already well under way, and soon the entries will come pouring in. Artists’ names and addresses, and info about each piece of art work, are then typed into a database. Typically about 150 to 200 entries arrive each year to be judged and displayed in the art show during HerrinFesta week. Much of this preliminary work is done at the LEAA headquarters, located on the southwest corner of the square in Marion.
Two weeks before the show, volunteers will meet to clean and set up the gallery in Herrin’s Murrah Building at 3 South Park Avenue, which also houses the HerrinFesta Italiana Souvenir Store. In 2008, the pre-registered artwork will be accepted beginning May 17. Volunteers are available to check in the work, and start arranging the art as it arrives. LEAA volunteers work more than 60 hours those two weeks before the show, not to mention the time they will spend staffing the gallery for the duration of the show. For example, last year, there were 137 hours spent staffing the gallery, and 397 hours spent in preparation, including graphic design, meetings, pick-up/delivery, data base inputting, billing, judging and clean-up. Whew! Let’s give a hand to Peggy McPhillips and all the LEAA members who work so hard to see that Southern Illinois residents can be treated to such a culturally rich event. Illuminating new and veteran artists from our area has always been LEAA’s mission, and they are hoping this year their mission will be elevated to new heights. Herrin Hospital will be sponsoring The LEAA Art Show, and as always, a big thank-you goes out to them. HerrinFesta visitors are welcome to view the art show, and vote for a “People’s Choice” winner, by entering through the south door of the Murrah Building. The art show is free, and many pieces will be offered for sale to the public.