July 11, 2014

Du Quoin fair to showcase Illinois food, wine

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill.  -- The 2014 Illinois Food and Wine Products Show at the Du Quoin State Fair will offer a special promotional opportunity for Southern Illinois businesses. 

The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Entrepreneurship and Business Development unit and the Illinois Department of Agriculture are partners in the event.  The showcase for Illinois food products is Aug. 30 and 31 in the air-conditioned Expo Hall.  

Participation is free for Illinois businesses and applications are now being accepted.  The deadline to apply is July 31.  Businesses chosen to participate will be notified after the application period ends. The only cost for participating businesses is providing samples to fairgoers.  

Organizers define an Illinois food product as any produced, processed or packaged in Illinois, or a product for which the company headquarters is located in Illinois. 

Businesses throughout the state with all types of food, wine, beer and spirits are welcome to participate and will garner plenty of public attention at the show.  The event will feature cooking demonstrations featuring Illinois edibles. 

“The Illinois Food and Wine Products Show at the Du Quoin State Fair is a wonderful way to showcase the many fine Illinois products on the market and foster consumer awareness to ‘Buy Illinois’,” Robyn Laur Russell, director of business development and international trade at SIU, said.  

She notes that the show continues to grow in size and popularity each year.  

Participating companies will offer product samples, promotional information and have items available for the public to purchase.  The marketplace will be in the north end of the Expo Hall and open from noon to 7 p.m. on Aug. 30 and from noon to 5 p.m. on Aug. 31.  Each participating business will have a 10-square-foot area for displays.  

Any Illinois food/drink business is welcome to participate but all must be a client of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIU or the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  Becoming a client is free and takes just a few minutes.  

Guest chefs will also be preparing special recipes throughout the week of the state fair, with a particular focus on using Illinois products in their culinary works.  

The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners will also be participating in the Illinois Food and Wine Products Show.  Regional wineries will offer tastings and sales and highlight food and wine pairings in conjunction with the cooking demonstrations. 

To sign up for the show, inquire about the cooking demonstrations or learn more about the Entrepreneurship and Business Development Unit at SIU Carbondale, call 618/536-2424, or visit the website at sbdc.siu.edu.  You may also obtain a show vendor application by emailing Russell at rrussell@biz.siu.edu.  

The Entrepreneurship and Business Development unit launched the “Made in Southern Illinois Marketplace” eight years ago at the Du Quoin State Fair and it has drawn praise from participating businesses and visitors. The show expanded three years ago, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, to become a venue featuring product samples and sales promotions.