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Food festival a hit for Fairbury

People enjoy "A Local Taste: Flavors from the Farm" in downtown Fairbury Saturday / CIFN photo.

Downtown Fairbury was like Chicago on a smaller scale Saturday – during the first ever “A Local Taste: Flavors from the Farm” festival.

Several food vendors and hungry residents filled Locust Street on a perfect August day. Staff members from Kilgus Farmstead were busy scooping peach, strawberry and chocolate ice cream.

“We work with a guy that runs a Red Bicycle shop down in Champaign and we make the mix for him,” explained Matt Kilgus.

Volunteer Marlin Miller with the Fairbury Area Chamber of Commerce was selling fresh, locally-grown sweet corn on the cob. Visitors were given the option to enjoy traditional corn with melted butter or Mexican corn with mayonnaise and parmesan cheese.

“It looks really good,” Miller said.

The Dave’s Supermarket booth featured homemade crackers from the store’s bakery made with local grain from Spence Farm. They also had mustard made in Illinois along with vinegar and olive oils.

“The most popular item hopefully will be our homemade brats,” said Mark Steffen. “We are grilling those on a Big Green Egg.”

John Livengood was among those grilling out on the street. His steak kabobs sold out fast, prompting him to make more. The kabobs included red bell pepper, ribeye steak, mushrooms and onion. Josh Schmidgall from Living Water Farms of Strawn was showcasing items produced in a 1.5-acre green house.

“We pump the water nutrients through the hydroponic system. We provide to a lot of restaurants in Chicago and are now starting to get into the retail market,” Schmidgall said.

Schmidgall said it is nice to be able to grow items year round since everything is inside the green house.

The food festival resulted from the suggestions of local citizens through the Fairbury Improvement Group. Brad Steidinger of Steidinger Foods and Rebekah Fehr from the Fairbury Area Chamber of Commerce got together to come up with the event to highlight locally-produced products and area agribusinesses.

“We are hoping we can continue to do this every year. Hopefully as this grows, we will get more growers and producers to come and showcase their foods,” Fehr noted.

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