HerrinFesta Italiana staying strong after 33 years, family shares bond over bocce ball

HERRIN, Ill. (KBSI) – Jordan Johnson grew up just a half mile from where HerrinFesta Italiana has taken place since 1991. 

“There were a lot of years when I was growing up where I would walk down and we’d hang out with friends,” he said. “Now we come down and have fun with family.” 

And that family includes Johnson’s three sons, with whom he is able to participate in the bocce ball tournament for the first time this year… 

And in doing so, the Johnsons are remembering Jordan’s late father, Tommy. 

“This was something that me and my dad did together, and it was one of the few things that we got along with when I was growing up, and I had fun with him,” Johnson said. “Now it’s fun to be able to pass on to my kids, and one day, hopefully they’ll be able to pass it on to their kids.” 

Justin Fetcho, from about 15 minutes away in Marion, said the southern Illinois community bands together for events like this. 

“Whether you’re from Herrin or not, I think everybody in southern Illinois cheers for southern Illinois, so I think it’s good to just be able to see one of the cities in southern Illinois doing well, and I know this is a huge thing for Herrin itself,” he said.

He said the family environment is a large part of what makes this festival such an attraction. 

“You look around out here and you see all these people with their kids, and everybody can come here and have fun,” he said. “It doesn’t matter really what age they are. There are all kinds of rides. There are all kinds of food. There are all kinds of things to do, and it’s a beautiful day, so it’s brought some people out, and it’s nice to see for this community.” 

So, whether you come to the festa for the rides, the atmosphere, the bocce ball, or all of the above, there really is something for everyone.

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