The tastiest charitable fund raiser of the year is being held at the SIC Foundation Building, 540 N. Commercial St., Harrisburg from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday March 24.
The Taste of Southern Illinois 2013 is the 15th annual celebration of Southern Illinois's finest restaurants. Each year the event raises nearly $100K for charity depending on ticket sales. Tickets are priced at $30 which is market price for fine dining in the region.
Proceeds go to charities like: ReLEAF Harrisburg for replanting trees destroyed in the Feb. 29, 2012, tornado, The Four "Cs", the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts, the Guardian Center, Operation Blessing and the Heart Association.
Financial Advisor Michael P. Tison is directing the event. Call him at 618-253-4444 for an advance ticket. Tison said that some tickets will be available at the door but advance tickets are preferred for planning purposes.
Started in 1999 the Taste event did well in Harrisburg but moved to Marion and the Pavilion from 2006 to 2009. It moved back to Harrisburg in 2010 when the SIC Foundation Building became available.
"The volunteer help in Harrisburg is fabulous," said Tison.
"We couldn't have it without the cooperation of area restaurants which provide the food for free. We are lucky to have great sponsors and great restaurants. We almost always have a full house so it is important that you get your tickets in advance.”
The event has a warm atmosphere during the chill typical of early spring.
"It's not the kind of event you want to have in June when you are competing with golf outings and boating weather. The colder weather actually helps us," he said.
The event features the wares of 16 area restaurants and beverage providers. This year Panera Bread of Marion will be providing coffee. Two other new participants are Bella's Italian Restaurant of West Frankfort and Rend Lake Culinary Institue which will be serving Duck Confit.
The participating businesses are: 17th Street Bar and Grill; 20's Hideout Restaurant; Alto Vineyards; Bella's Italian Restaurant; Johnson's Southern Barbecue; Koerner Distributor, Inc.; Kokopelli's; Marion Red Lobster; Panera Bread; Peking Palace; Pepsi MidAmerica; Rend Lake Culinary Institute; Shawnee Winery; Tequila's Mexican Restaurant and the Chocolate Factory.
To add to the ambiance there will be music by the jazz band The Penguins.
Sponsors of the event are The Medicine Shop; The Bank of Marion; Raben Tire and Auto Service; Raymond James Financial Services; Primary Care Group; Tison and Hall; The Daily Register and Liberty Utilities.