Jun 12, 2012

Art by day, wine by night

After a long weekend volunteering at the SOHO Music Festival to start the month and a busy stretch at work, I’ve been suffering from a little “blogger’s block,” as I like to call it.  But I figure there’s no better way to get back on track than recapping an eventful and extremely fun Saturday.  

As fate would have it, I served as a roadie for a mysterious and exotic Gypsy selling her wares at the MacART Fest just a few blocks down the road.   The festival is part of a revitalization effort for the MacArthur Boulevard corridor in Springfield, Ill.  In addition to raising funds for the effort, the festival helps brings people into the neighborhood to see the recent surge of specialty shops and businesses taking roots in the area.  And since we live so close by, it was a no-brainer for Gypsy to participate in the arts and crafts fair June 9. 

The volunteers at the MacART Fest were incredibly helpful on our arrival, and we got set up in no time.  We were also fortunate to get one of the few shady spots on the site for a 90-degree day on a paved parking lot.  I think Gypsy is getting the hang of the art of displaying art.  

The only downside came with the increasing gusts of wind in the afternoon, which tipped over a few displays and caused a couple of casualties.  It put a damper on a fairly successful show (great business from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., slowed off the remainder of the afternoon … the heat was a factor, perhaps?). 

I took some solace in the fact that the Chadito’s Taco Truck was right by our stand. 

Seriously, you have got to try their fish tacos if you get the chance.  And when you get whiffs of their food in the air for several consecutive hours, you tend to spend a lot of money there.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course, although my waistline might disagree with me.

Aside from Gypsy’s jewelry, of course, I was most impressed with this mural being painted on-site by artist Michael Mayosky.  You couldn’t miss it.

Later that evening, in another “as fate would have it” circumstance, we accepted a very gracious invitation to attend a private pizza/wine party from Susan Danenberger at Danenberger Family Vineyards.  My two longtime readers may recall me touting their wines from this blog about the art show at American Harvest Restaurant’s one-year anniversary. 

Danenberger Family Vineyards is a small, boutique winery in rural New Berlin, Ill., that has been making handcrafted wines since 2007.  It’s still an appointment-only operation (weddings, private parties, private tours, etc.) but they appear ready to expand once they go through the extensive licensing process.  (12 permits, really?  It seems like every branch of the government wants a piece of the action.)  They’ve been working hard this spring planting a lot more vines and constructing a spacious outdoor area where visitors can enjoy the wine, food and ambiance.   

The patio and grill area
The gazebo

The bocce ball court   
The pond and fire pit
 Coincidentally, we met my fake wife, Christine, and our friend, Rick, there. 

Gypsy with fake wife.  I may have understated the quality of Christine's cheesecake before I took this picture. 
Rick "Bubba" Schlemm
And we were just in time to enjoy an incredible smorgasbord of fine appetizers – from lamb chops, pizzas from the wood-fired oven, mango gazpacho soup, grilled salad (Awesome!  Who knew?) and grilled shrimp.  Compliments to chef and grill master Doug Danenberger.   

Doug (left) did an outstanding job and was cooking almost non-stop!
We washed it all down with several glasses of the winery’s pinot noir and meritage, and the occasional beer on-hand.  Both reds were excellent, but the pinot noir was even better than I remembered from April.  And, as the sun set on over the vines and corn (it is Illinois farm country, after all) …

… we settled in by the fire pit.  Here’s the obligatory fat picture of yours truly …

… and here’s an unusually camera-shy mysterious and exotic Gypsy.  It’s a nice picture of her gargoyle tattoo, though. 

It was a perfect low-key night filled with great company, great atmosphere and great wine.  Much thanks again to Doug and Susan for their wonderful hospitality.

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