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Geneva sees another successful Festival of the Vine

GENEVA – Standing with her dog – a Bernese mountain dog named Quinn – Batavia resident Claudia Curtis on Sunday didn't hesitate when asked why she returns to the Festival of the Vine every year.

"The food," she said, noting she comes for such sweets as caramel corn, gelato and chocolate. "It's an excuse to eat junk food."

But the 32nd annual Festival of the Vine offered attendees more than food and wine. The three-day Geneva festival featured live music, a craft show, trolley rides and children's activities.

And, new this year, the Northern Illinois Food Bank gave attendees a chance to volunteer.

The organization received 1 million pounds of pumpkin pie filling that needed to be relabeled, so it brought pallets to Festival of the Vine, said Tiffany King, the food bank's development officer of special events.

It was the food bank's first offsite volunteer project, she said. She said people of all ages could participate.

"One little boy would not leave," she said.

Saturday, volunteers placed new labels on more than three pallets, King said, noting one pallet holds 1,200 cans. She hoped for similar numbers Sunday, the last day of the festival.

Festival of the Vine was presented by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.

Laura Rush of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce said turnout this year was good, even with Saturday's heat.

"It was a constant crowd, for sure," she said, noting a large group remained when the live music ended Saturday night. "Another successful Festival of the Vine for Geneva and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce."

With 22 local restaurants and eateries participating in the Flavor Fare at West State and North Fourth streets, attendees on Sunday had dozens of lunchtime options, including fish tacos, garlic crab pasta, black bean soup, shrimp and grits and, among other foods, Italian sausage with peppers.

Susan Rizzo of Wheaton and her 8-year-old son, Sam, said they liked sampling food from a variety of restaurants all at once. At the moment, Sam was trying a ricotta stuffed meatball from Riganato Old World Grille.

"Dad's out there, getting the next wave," Susan Rizzo said. "These are all really great restaurants, so it's fun getting them all at once."

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