For former and present residents of Zeigler and surrounding areas, the annual Zeigler Home Festival is a coming together of friends and family as they celebrate community and fellowship. This Friday and Saturday at the town circle musicians, food vendors, family entertainment and other homegrown vendors will be ready to meet and greet a streaming crowd of smiling faces.
"I have been overwhelmed by the amount of people who have come forward and donated their time in order to help put together this festival," said festival coordinator Georgia de la Garza, who says the festival is a representation of what it means to be a community.
The festivities will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday with the Ice Cream Social and Gospel time with "Denny Bush and Friends."
"Gospel Time is a festival tradition," said de la Garza, who in her second year of coordinating the event combined the ice cream social with a positive outflow of music.
From 8 p.m. to midnight the rock band "The Peaces" will take the stage in a change of genre, which de la Garza says has a large and loyal fan base.
Saturday morning will begin with the parade at 10 a.m.
While music will play under the large tent all day, many will be lining up to hear "Hey Honey Blue Grass," a band made up of SIU students.
Also at 11 a.m. is Library Story Time featuring "Camo the Clown." With the clown being known all over Southern Illinois for his performances and wild animal friends, de la Garza says she expects at least 100 kids to be in attendance.
Also on hand will be the Zeigler firefighters, who will be roasting corn and raffling fire safety equipment.
The Eagles Fish Fry will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as will the American Legion BBQ, which will be serving at 11:30. Of course, carnival favorites will be set up along the circle as well.
For those looking to be entertained, The Tom Wallace Show will go from noon to 2 p.m.
"Everyone knows Tom Wallace," said de la Garza, who praised his ability to keep a crowd entertained with his bag full of tools to keep an audience alive.
Other events that will run throughout the day include Bingo from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the Women's Civic Club's Cake Walk located inside the Eagles.
Games will be offered all day for kids and Andrews Inflatables will be on site from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The mother of all competitions will be the hot dog eating contest at 2:30 p.m.
There is no age limitation and the man, woman or child who is able to stuff tho most dogs in the allotted time period will win a restaurant gift certificate. However, as de la Garza pointed out, the real prize will be one's own pride.
Page 2 of 2 - The evening will top off with music by "Indigo Blues" from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., "Mike McCluskey Acoustic Sound" from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and finally Deanna Freeman of "Jackson Junction," who will perform from 8 p.m. to midnight.
For those looking to shop, there is no shortage of vendors or choices. Everything from produce, home decor, toys and novelties as well as fashions for your pooch will be showcased. There will even be a hair stylist available to give cuts and styles.
"These two days are going to be about community spirit," said de la Garza, who says she is especially appreciative of such sponsors as the Eagles Auxiliary, Vantrease Funeral Homes, Herrin Security Bank, Shawnee Survey, Zeigler Petro and Kings Tavern, to name a few, for their help in providing cash money and items necessary to pulling off something of this magnitude.
"It is this display of community stewardship that fueled my desire to coordinate this event another year, said de la Garza, who is already planning next year's festival which will be bigger and better than any before, as the town of Zeigler celebrates its 100th birthday.