Vulture Fest: Makanda’s Most Macabre Celebration!
Makanda's annual Vulture Fest will celebrate its twelfth year with music, artisans, and of course vultures Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16.
“This year’s Vulture Fest will be unique to prior years but still hold on to the core values that each Makanda Fest bestows, and that is showcasing Southern Illinois beauty and local talent, including artisans and musicians,” Janelle Weber, owner of the eco-friendly Makanda Inn and Vulture Fest coordinator for the third year in a row, told Nightlife.
The festival's focus on the natural beauty of the area is also the origin of its name.
“The name Vulture Fest originated because of the time of year it takes place is also migration season for the vultures, so at any given fest there is a possibility of hundreds of vultures migrating through the skies,” Weber said. “Vultures are particularly fond of Makanda because of the many bluffs in Giant City that make great resting spots.”
Free Again, a wildlife-rehabilitation facility founded by Beverly Shofstall, will bring both a black vulture as well as a turkey vulture to the fest. Free Again's mission is to help injured wildlife heal and then release the animals back into the wild.
In addition to Free Again, many vendors attend Vulture Fest.
“This year, vendors will include the usual favorites that are present on the Boardwalk year-round, including Dave Dardis’s Rainmaker copper jewelry and one of a kind art, Medicine Bull, Makanda Country Store, Visions Art Gallery, CMS Pottery, Makanda Trading Company, Lazy Days Deli, and across the road Allan Stuck[’s] jewelry,” Weber said. “In addition to the originals, we will feature willow-furniture makers, chainsaw woodcarvers, woodworkers, homemade beads, jewelry, tie-dyes, clothing, paintings, puzzles, pursers, candles, body lotions, fragrances and soaps, blown glass, stained glass, hemp work, and much more.... We will also be selling Vulture Fest T-shirts and holding a silent auction at the information booth, which will be located across from the music pavilion.”
Vulture Fest also has two music stages. On Saturday, the Downtown Pavilion will feature the J. Brown Band, the Bone Dry River Band, and Leadfoot. On Sunday, the Pavilion features SIWADE, the Venturis, and Soul Glo. On Saturday, the Rainmaker's Garden features Christine Bauer, Barry Cloyd, and Hillbilly Standard. On Sunday, the Rainmaker's Garden will feature Wil Maring and Robert Bowlin, the New Arts Jazztet, and the Joey Odum Blues Project.
Food vendors will offer traditional fest favorites like hotdogs, corndogs, nachos, gyros, burgers, brats, funnel cakes, cheese fries, and barbecue. In addition, “On the boardwalk you will be able to find hand-dipped ice cream and sandwiches at Makanda Country Store, and Lazy Days Deli will be serving crawfish etouffee, Chicago Italian beefs, homemade soup, and much more,” Weber said.
Vulture Fest is also a family friendly event, an aspect that Weber enjoys.
“I love that people of all ages get to come down and experience the Makanda way of life for a weekend that we locals get to enjoy everyday,” Weber said. “I enjoy showcasing the physical beauty the town holds as well as the beauty in the local artisans’ work. We offer a free fest featuring over fifty craftspeople, sixteen bands, and five different food outlets. It isn't very often where you can find all of that in such an intimate setting.”
Vulture Fest will also offer special treats for kids in 2011.
“This year we are excited to debut the Kids Korner,” Weber said. “We will have face-painting, vulture picture coloring, singing, and dancing. On Sunday, SIWADE, [the] Southern Illinois West African Drum Ensemble, will be doing a drum presentation for all ages before their performance. Please bring your own drum if you would like to join in, or just come and watch.”
For those who have never attended a Vulture Fest, parking is sometimes challenging, so carpooling is a good idea.
“Expect the unexpected,” Weber said. “You never know who you will run into, what treasures you will find, or which band you will have newly discovered. Have the open mind to try new things and meet new people.”
who: Makanda Festival Events
what: Vulture Festival
where: Makanda Boardwalk and Pavilion
when: Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16