For Piazza Chairman Brett Crouse, life gets easier when Lee and Debbie Perkins show up the week before Festa begins. Lee, owner of Southern Illinois Services, puts life on hold, and takes a “vacation” from work, to be the guy Brett counts on for everything from setting up the stage, to arranging the picnic tables, and transporting trash cans from King’s warehouses to the Festa grounds, as well as being on hand to fix anything that breaks down. Lee’s wife Debbie, and their daughters Mindy and Jessica, are right there too, making themselves available for whatever duties come up.
One of the first things Lee has to take care of is putting up the sponsors’ signs; from there, he and Mindy, who are both forklift operators, get busy lifting, hauling, and moving all the props and equipment that are needed for the week. Once Festa begins, you will see Lee at the Piazza gate, or running between tents answering calls of “Help!” Debbie mans the Volunteer Tent, cooking up hot dogs, baked ziti, cole slaw or potato salad to keep the many overworked volunteers fed. On Thursday night Debbie and her daughters serve wine at the Mayor’s Banquet. The Perkins family doesn’t disappear when it’s over; in fact, they’re still on hand in the days following, moving out the picnic tables, taking down the stage, and putting everything away to await next year’s HerrinFesta Italiana. If you see Lee or his family members, shake their hands, and let them know you appreciate their hard work!