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Sample food and drink for good causes

Taste of the Area: You can sample your way through the specialties of 21 restaurants and food vendors at Taste of the Area Saturday in O’Fallon.

The event, sponsored by the St. Clair County Extension and Education Foundation, will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Regency Conference Center, 400 Regency Park in O’Fallon. It will raise money for educational programming for county residents, youth and businesses in the areas of home horticulture, community and economic development, and 4-H Club programs.

Admission is a $25 donation. Call 618-939-3434 for reservation; tickets will be available at the door.

Participating vendors are Texas Roadhouse, McAlister’s Deli, Lunch for the Bunch, Amore, Tastefully Simple (Pauline Lewis), Olive Garden, Joe’s Crab Shack, Applebees of Shiloh, Sweet Katie Bees, Pampered Chef (Jo Hackmann), Honeybaked Ham, Buffalo Wild Wings, Swansea Family Restaurant, Peels Pizza of O’Fallon, Hemingway’s Zen, Chick-Fil-A, Starbuck’s Coffee, Ravanelli’s, The Garden Grille and Bar, Chili’s and The Egg and I.

More Than Just Desserts: The annual silent auction and food tasting will benefit the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois. It will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at Four Points by Sheraton, 319 Fountains Parkway in Fairview Heights. Cost is $30 per person, which includes the silent auction, food tasting, wine and beer. A cash bar wil be available. Reservations must be made today at 618-236-2531.

Help for heroes

You can show your support for firefighters, emergency personnel and law enforcement officers at two events this weekend.

Backstoppers Benefit: Code 2 will play rock ’n’ roll and country rock at a fundraiser for Backstoppers from 8 to midnight Friday at the Millstadt VFW. A cover charge of $5 will get you in for the music, 50-50 drawings and a drawing for a wagon of booze.

Backstoppers Inc. supports police, firefighters and EMS by helping the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety. For more information, go to

Firemen’s Dance: Well Hungarians will perform for Saturday’s annual dance to benefit the Highland and Highland-Pierron fire departments. Doors open at 6 p.m.; music and dancing are from 8 to midnight at the Highland Knights of Columbus Hall, 12454 State Route 143 in Highland.

There will be a silent auction, raffle of a cooler of booze, a cash bar and chicken. (Feel free to bring side dishes.) Advance tickets are $20 per person and $35 per couple from any firefighter. Tickets at the door are $25 per person and $40 per couple.

West drama

Belleville West Little Theatre will present “Good People,” its annual contest drama, at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Belleville West Performing Arts Center.

The play begins in Southie, a Boston neighborhood where a night on the town means a few rounds of bingo, where this month’s paycheck covers last month’s bills and where Margie Walsh (junior Bailey Guinn) has just lost another job.

Facing evinction, Margie thinks an old fling (senior Tyler Herron), who has made it out of Southie, might be her ticket to a fresh start. But is he secure enough to face his humble beginnings? Margie is about to risk what little she has to find out.

Other cast members are senior Allison Knapp, juniors Sam Geiger and Nathan Hirst, ans sophomores Rachel Deschaine and Janae Robinson.

The play must be performed within 40 minutes and student technicians have 20 minutes to set and clear the stage for performance. The production will compete with other high school dramas for a berth in the state tournament. The sectional tournament will be held Saturday.

Tickets to Thursday’s performance are $3 for students, $5 for adults.

Welcome spring

You can get a jump on spring by watching the sun rise through the re-created circle of wooden posts called Woodhenge at the Cahokia Mounds Historic Site, just like the Native Americans did hundreds of years ago.

Visitors can gather at 6:45 a.m. Sunday. The huge circle of posts stands about 1 mile west of the site’s interpretive center on Collinsville Road. An archaelogist will explain the discovery, form and function of Woiodhenge while awaiting sunrise. No rituals or ceremonies will be performed out of respect for American Indian beliefs and culture.

The vernal equinox occurs Friday, when the day is equally devided between hours of light and darkness. Cahokia Mounds marks the occasion on the nearest Sunday.

Learn more about Native Americans and their relation to the stars and sky when William Romain presents “Ancient Skywatchers of the Eastern Woodlands” at 2 p.m. in the interpretive center.

The site is just off Interstates 55/70 and Interstate 155 on old Collinsville Road. The interpretive center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. There is no admission fee, but suggested donations are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $15 for families.

Folk Festival

The Sadie Hawkins Day String Band will headline the third annual Folk Festival on Sunday at Pere Marquette State Park & Lodge. The St. Louis foursome performs a unique twist of traditional, bluegrass, blues and folk music.

The festival, a celebration of cultures and crafts of the riverbend region, is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday in the lodge and conference center. It features stone carving and soap making demonstrations, as well as kids activities such as face painting, balloon twisting and crafts. Vendors will sell handmade goods, including leather purses, wooden birdhouses, local olive oil, clay pottery and fired and wired jewelry.

The Mary Michelle Winery will be open for wine tasting at noon and the Lodge Restaurant will be serving all day.