The 15th annual Illinois Art & Wine Festival has a new venue this year, next to Rend Lake Golf Course and Seasons Lodge in Whittington. The festival will showcase 13 wineries and 50 artisans on Sept. 27 and 28.

“It’s a chance to really grow,” Bruce Morgenstern, the event organizer, said. “I think this could be one of the premier festivals in Southern Illinois.”

The festival will have a new spacious atmosphere, allowing for an open arrangement of vendors and music, Morganstern said. The venue is about six times the size of the festival’s previous location at the Southern Illinois Art and Artistans Center.

“We’ve been stuck at 13 for a number of years,” Morgenstern said of the number wineries that attend the festival. With more space, more wineries and vendors could be on the horizon in future, he said, which could draw more artisans.

Festival demonstrations from this year’s artisans will include pottery, blacksmithing and basket weaving. “It’s an opportunity to see what takes place in creating this work,” Morgenstern said.

All of the artisans are selected from a committee, Morgenstern said.

“They are true artists, not crafters,” he said. “And it takes an artist to know one.”

New this year, artists will have an opportunity this year to submit pieces they would like to have on next year’s festival poster.

Entry for the festival is $2, or $10 for a wine tasting armband, and there will be a variety of regional food and live music. Food choices will include Jack Russell Fish, Burton’s, Uncle Joe’s and Pappa Z’s.

The band lineup will be Rowdy Jones Band, Ventrius Band, Dennis Stroughmatt & Creole Stomp, and Swing N Country. There will also be music at Pheasant Hollow at 6:30 p.m. Saturday by Moonbeam Lane.

“I can’t express how excited I am,” Morgenstern said. “It’s about community, promoting Rend Lake, Franklin County and the region -- It’s about promoting Illinois wineries and artists.”

The festival is sponsored by Rend Lake Area Tourism Council, Illinois Wine and WSIU Radio.

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