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Horseradish Festival 2003
A large horseradish hot air balloon danced in the stiff breeze on Sunday afternoon at Woodland Park in Collinsville during the 16th Annual International Horseradish Festival.
Horseradish Festival Was a Tasty Event
by Betty Moore
© 2003, Southwest Illinois News

COLLINSVILLE, (SWI-News.com), June 8, 2003 - A small community along Route 66 holds the distinction of growing nearly 60 percent of the world's horseradish root. To celebrate the tangy flavor of the fleshy root and create national awareness, Collinsville has held a summer festival since 1988.

This year, the 16th Annual International Horseradish Festival was a two-day event, June 7 - 8, featuring a variety of activities including a horseradish toss, the crowning of a Little Miss Horseradish Festival, a Bloody Mary-making competition, root sacking contest, arts & craft fair, recipe contest, 5K run, pony rides, train rides, live entertainment and food.

Curious visitors gathered at the horseradish tent to learn more about the many interesting uses of horseradish from the local farmers. Festival-goers took the opportunity to sample products from the fresh ground version to cranberry horseradish jelly. After discovering that the tangy flavor was quite enjoyable, many visitors left the festival with roots, recipes and a bit of history on the horseradish.

Jake Strutkhoff (age one) enjoys the fest.
An Italian Fest Brings People Together in Collinsville

by Betty Moore
Photos by Bob Moore
© 2001, Southwest Illinois News

COLLINSVILLE, (SWI-News.com), Sept 15, 2001 - Along Main Street in downtown Collinsville, American flags waiving in the breeze were very evident at the 18th Annual Italian Fest, Sept 14 - 15. Banners displaying bright Italian colors hung from every lightpole. Families and friends had gathered together to proudly celebrate their Italian and American heritage and share a few hours of fun and visiting with their neighbors.

The tantalizing smell of Italian cooking was everywhere. Numerous food booths between Seminary St. and Morrison Ave. featured an array of Italian pork, chicken, sausage and beef sandwiches, sazzisa, pepperoni bread, cannoli, rotini, ravioli and mostaccioli. Caramel apples, spumoni, funnel cakes, cheesecake and cotton candy were also available.

Hundreds of families and friends enjoyed the 18th annual Italian Fest on Main Street in Collinsville.

Collinsville native Amie Spontaski, of Troy, IL, holds her daughter, Claudia, for a ride at Hanna's pony rides.
John Shaw, Director of the Italian Fest, noted that while the festival mood was subdued compared to other years, so many people had expressed their thanks for not canceling the event. "People have been telling me all day that they needed to get away from the TV for a couple of hours and talk with people on the street about what was happening," stated Shaw.

"It was a tough decision for us to make to have this festival, especially with the whole country feeling terrible about what happened on Tuesday," Shaw said. "At the same time, we decided that if we are going forward with it, we have to make it worthwhile and give everybody a chance to feel good. Life has to go on," he observed.

Shaw stated that the Italian Fest is giving 100 percent of the profits to the Disaster Relief Fund. "This is money that would normally go to our scholarship fund and into our special projects fund. We have a lot of booths here that are doing the same thing. Yesterday, the firemen collected almost $5,000," stated Shaw.

Three stages were set up for ongoing entertainment. On Saturday afternoon, the energetic sounds of the Faith Family Choir rocked the Roma Stage bringing smiles to many faces. At various times throughout the fest, the music of Sh-Boom playing rock 'n' roll oldies, mixed with the big band notes of the Joey James Orchestra and the Uncle Albert band jamming with their blues. The program also featured an appearance by accordionist Amy Jo Sawyer.

The antics of Harvey the Juggler tossing balls and other items was enjoyed by young and old alike. A bocce ball tournament, grape stomps, face painting, games booths and Hanna's pony rides provided wonderful opportunities for families to play together.

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