Sweet corn, quesadillas and ice cream were among the many foods that crossed the taste buds of those partaking in A Taste of Beardstown Saturday.
The annual event is designed to highlight the Cass County community’s diverse home cooking and ethnic foods, according to Dennis Reiley, executive director of Beardstown Main Street, which is one of the festival’s sponsors.
“It started out as a showcase for Beardstown restaurants, but when we got to thinking about it, just the restaurants weren’t indicative of the cuisine in Beardstown,” Reiley said. “The Beardstown firemen are famous for their annual fish fry, the Beardstown Lions Club is well known for its bratwurst and steak sandwiches and then there’s Miller’s State Fair cozy dogs and lemon shakeups.
“After we put them in it, the rest of the local organizations jumped on board. This year, we have Wal-Mart and Hardees as vendors, along with three Hispanic vendors — La Isla Tropical Restaurant, La Esperanza and La Familia Taqueria and Degaberto Reza’s.”
All together, Saturday’s festival featured 14 food vendors and music by Motorboat, Boots and Lace and Karea Musical. In addition, auditions were held for the Beardstown Fall Fun Festival Talent Show.
“Over the years, this has been a very successful event for local restaurants and organizations,” Reiley said. “It is not designed to be a fundraiser for Beardstown Main Street; it’s meant to showcase Beardstown’s unique cuisine.”
One of the organizations that has been involved with A Taste of Beardstown since it started is The Exchange Club of Beardstown, which was charted in 1992.
“We had watermelon donated to us the first year, and the proceeds from the sale of those watermelons went to the club’s community activities,” said Doris McKenzie, awards secretary and a charter member of The Exchange Club of Beardstown. The organization has four primary areas of service — youth, Americanism, child abuse prevention and the community.
The club now sells ice cream, a variety of pies and root beer floats at the event. “One of the reasons The Exchange Club of Beardstown participates in the event is to support Beardstown Main Street,” McKenzie said.
Greg Olson can be contacted at 217-245-6121, ext. 1224, or on Twitter @JCNews_Greg.