HerrinFesta Italiana celebrates their 25th annual festival Memorial Day weekend. Herrin native, Marilyn Berra Phillips has been named 2015 HerrinFesta Grand Parade Marshal. She is a long time volunteer, business woman and currently owner of The Burger Nook in Herrin. After a brush with fame when her Sparta, Illinois dress shop was used in the movie In the Heat of the Night starring Rod Steiger and Sydney Poitier and a multi –faceted business career spanning 45 years, she purchased the Herrin landmark restaurant in 2008.
She was a longtime director of events and entertainment at the DuQuoin State Fair, founder of the Southern Illinois Folk Festival and President of Southern Illinois Arts and Crafts. She was the first full time employee of Dippin Dots as customer service director. She traveled though all 50 states in America and in Europe.
She was the first woman to serve on the International Country Music Buyers Association, a longtime employee of Southern Illinois Incorporated and a member of the Southern Illinois Tourism Council. She was a community activist when she lived in Murphysboro and continues community work in Herrin.
Her many activities include PTA presidency, co-hosting a TV show, winning the Pillsbury Bakeoff at the Illinois State Fair, judging county fair queen contests throughout Illinois, Regional coordinator for the Illinois Bicentennial Commission for Southern Illinois, past president of the Southern Illinois Arts and Crafts Guild, Who’s Who in Women of Illinois, lifetime member and past president of Beta Sigma Chi Sorority, past member of Southern Illinois Tourism Council, bringing Shriner’s Circus to DuQuoin State Fair, founder and past president of the Southern Illinois Fall Festival at DuQuoin State Fair, member of International Association of Fairs and Expositions, voting member of Country Music Association, and currently tending the needs of several loyal Burger Nook customers who can no longer come in for meals.
Bob DeFilippis, a past Festa Lifetime Achievement winner says, “ In addition to her business and professional accomplishments, she stands out as one of the most caring and concerned citizens of the area. As a community, we are lucky to have her among us.”
A Herrin High School graduate, she left Flight Attendant School to return to Herrin and marry. She has two daughters, 3 grandsons and 5 great grandchildren. She will be honored along with the other Festa Honorees at the HerrinFesta Honoree Banquet, Tuesday, May 19 at the Herrin Elks Club