New Taste of Illinois to showcase specialties at IFB Annual Meeting

From pizza to popcorn, locally-grown food sourced from members to take the spotlight.

Rice grown by Blake Gerard, a Pulaski-Alexander Farm Bureau member, will be among the specialty products featured at a new IFB annual meeting event. (Photos courtesy of Cahokia Rice)

By Kay Shipman

Farm Bureau members will discover new tastes and homegrown specialties at a special locally grown event Dec. 2 during the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Chicago.

From 5 to 8 p.m., the Live Local Taste of Illinois will feature foods, beverages and fall decor produced by Farm Bureau members, said Raghela Scavuzzo, IFB local foods program manager.

“All the products will be sourced only from Farm Bureau members,” Scavuzzo said. “This is about getting to know the diversity of our Farm Bureau members.” She described the event, which requires an admission ticket, as casual, fun and filling.

For example, the taco station will feature a rice-and-beans dish with Cahokia Rice from Alexander County grown by Pulaski-Alexander Farm Bureau member Blake Gerard. “We’re super excited to be there and be part of this,” Gerard said. The event provides an opportunity to share information about his high-protein rice, he added.

Gerard, who finished harvesting rice Oct. 24, said he plans to attend the event in Chicago.

With a menu as varied as Farm Bureau members’ products, selections will include entrees of chicken wings, meat balls and short ribs; salad bar; various flat bread pizzas; slider selection; cheeses and charcuterie; popcorn varieties; and desserts of apple tart, pumpkin cheesecake and berries.

A cash bar will serve spirits and beverages produced by Farm Bureau members.

A feast for the eyes will include pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn supplied by Logan County Farm Bureau member Gail Sasse of Beason. Although Sasse won’t be able to attend the event, she appreciates the opportunity to participate and share information about Gail’s Pumpkin Patch.  

Tickets cost $35 and may be purchased in advance through county Farm Bureaus. Children younger than 12 may get in free with a donation of three canned food items that will be collected for Harvest for All. A limited number of $40 tickets will be available at the door.

To support local growers after the event, IFB will sell specially designed T-shirts, touting Live Local and an old farm truck. T-shirt proceeds will support Harvest for All.