HERRIN, IL (WSIL) – HerrinFesta Italiana has been entertaining Southern Illinois for more than 30 years. It also brings a big boost to the local economy.
“Every year people look forward to HerrinFest and they know summer is coming when HerrinFest occurs,” said HerrinFesta Italiana president Chris Trapani.
HerrinFest has been the unofficial gateway to the summer season for more than 30 years and according to Trapani, preparations for the weeklong events start months in advance.
“It's the premier event,” said Trapani. “It showcases our local town. It showcases our local southern Illinois area.”
And the impact HerrinFest has on the local economy can't be undersold.
“The last study that was done showed several millions of dollars that roll through the economy as a result of HerrinFest,” said Trapani.
As the week rolls on, businesses plan for months ahead of HerrinFest. One of those is Louie's P&R, a Herrin staple for more than 100 years.
“When people come back to town from wherever they’ve moved to they have to come back and their first stop is Louie’s,” said Julie Christ, owner of Louie’s.
Julie and her husband Aaron bought Louie’s in 2019. She grew up in Herrin, so she knows the importance of Louie’s to the area as well as the impact HerrinFest has on her business.
“All the businesses in town wait for this weekend. Everyone is open extra hours and there’s a rush of people coming into town so we have to take advantage of that,” said Christ.
And as much as the week means to places like Louie’s P&R, Christ says keeping up can be challenging.
“All the great staff I know I couldn’t do this without, know they’re working extra hours this weekend and no one gets a day off during HerrinFest week,” Christ said.
But as hectic of a week as it can be, Christ says she wouldn't change anything about herrinFest week because she sees firsthand what it means to everyone involved.
“HerrinFest is more than just a carnival and food. it honors our town and its Italian heritage and it's a very exciting time in Herrin,” she said.