WHITTINGTON — For Mary Lou Galloway, there’s more to the annual Illinois Art and Wine Festival than the name implies.

Sure, with 13 wineries and 50 artists from across the state on hand there’s plenty of two of Illinois’ finest products to go around. But the real appeal of the festival comes from the people who journey across not only the state, but the country, to attend.

There’s the woman who stocks up on a year’s worth of wine; the gentleman from Maryland from uses his vacation days from work to travel to Whittington; and don’t forget the three couples who make the annual trek from Colorado.

“We’re seeing a lot of our friends coming back year after year,” Galloway said.

Those are just a few of the average 5,000 to 7,000 patrons who visit the festival each year. And while many of the guests have become regular fixtures, so have many of the artists and wineries showcasing their wares to the crowd.

Many of the participating artists are fixtures of the festival, and it’s the one place where their fans know they’ll be able to find their work time and time again. But, of course, they have to make room for new ones, as well.

“We have artists who people know will be here,” Galloway said. “And every year, we get new artists coming in.”

That’s exactly what the organizers had in mind almost a decade and a half ago when they started the event as a way to highlight local merchants and to educate the public. Festivalgoers can talk to winemakers and learn some of the tricks of the trade.

In addition to the artists and wineries, guests will also find crafters, musicians and more on the grounds of the Southern Illinois Art and Artisans Center. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30. Admission is $10 for wine-drinkers and $2 for other patrons.

The Kevin Lucas Orchestra will play from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by Southern Pride from 3 to 6. On Sunday, Dennis Strough-matt and Creole Stomp will perform from 2 to 6 p.m.

“They have a lot of very interesting vendors. They fill the grounds up with crafts, they have live music and there’s wine for the wine drinkers,” said Frank Savka, president of the Franklin County Tourism Bureau. “You can just spend the whole there.”

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