MARION -- State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, said he's pleased with the turnout at his inaugural Southern Illinois Made Expo held over the weekend at The Pavilion in Marion.
The expo saw 100 local vendors in attendance promoting and selling various products and goods that come from the region. On site were members of Fowler's staff who helped run the expo in addition to an appearance made by Fowler himself.
In a news release, Fowler commented on the generating effect his constituents had on the creation of the event.
"Since taking office, so many employers and employees throughout the region have reached out to me, voicing concerns and discussing the importance of doing more to help our business climate here in Illinois. Those types of discussions are what inspired this event," Fowler said. "I wanted to use this expo as another way to encourage constituents to give me their feedback, provide their insight on the issues that matter most to those in the district and be as accessible as possible to those I represent."
Jared Garrison, the executive director of The Pavilion, voiced his support for Fowler's endeavors in reaching out to the community via locally made products.
"The Pavilion is honored to help Sen. Fowler bring his vision of the Southern Illinois Made Expo to our community and we are thrilled to know that this event benefits Southern Illinois Honor Flight," Garrison said. "The public is being give a real treat -- the amount of vendor participation for this Expo is astounding. It is by far the largest expo we've experienced at The Pavilion."
The expo saw a variety of products that ranged from baked goods to samplings from several area restaurants and food vendors including 17th Street Bar and Grill, Louie's Seasoning, and Johnson's Bar-B-Que. Walker's Bluff Winery offered samples to patrons as well.
Fabrics and hygienic beauty items unique to the market were sold by vendors such as Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch and Knotted Gypsy Designs, both from Makanda. Local art was prominently featured by artist and photographer Gabby Johnson while novelist Hillary DeVisser also was featured, selling three of her popular romance novels inspired by southern Illinois. Brian DeNeal, publisher of Springhouse Magazine, also sold various issues of the burgeoning publication to local outdoor and history enthusiasts.
In total, the expo hosted more than 2,000 patrons over the course of the weekend. Currently, the event is thought to have brought in over $25,000, though more donations are likely to be made. All proceeds from the event went to benefit the Southern Illinois Honor Flight, servicing veterans of the armed forces throughout the region.
"As state senator, I have the privilege of serving a great district, filled with so many opportunities and home to so many hardworking employees, innovative businesses, and beautiful locations," Fowler said. "For me, southern Illinois has it all and I wanted this expo to showcase everything that there is to love and support about our region."