40th Grande Leve draws good crowds over the weekend

A storm earlier in the day and a forecast predicting severe weather that evening led to an outlook for an inauspicious start of the Grande Leve on Friday.

But many of the activities planned for that evening went off as planned, and perfect weather led to good crowds for the remainder of the weekend.

This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Grande Leve, a period celebration held each year on Fathers Day weekend to recall the grand receptions held in the 1800s, when Vandalia served as Illinois capital.

The threat of bad weather forced the relocation of the ham and beans dinner to Vandalia Junior High School. The Vandalia Statehouses support group, Friends of the Old State Capitol, served more than 200 people in the VJHS cafeteria.

Meanwhile, the Mulhearn Family and George Portz & his Friends of Bluegrass entertained about 130 people on the Statehouse lawn.

Saturday is traditionally the biggest day of the celebration, and this year was no exception, thanks to good weather.

It was a really good day, said Statehouse Site Superintendent Mary Cole.

Cole and her staff estimated Saturdays crowd at slightly more than 2,500.

Overall, Cole gave this years Grande Leve good marks.

We had some new artisans and performers this year, and they all seemed to be well-received, she said. The returning participants, including those with stands featuring the foods of our capital days, continued to be popular attractions.

We also were fortunate to have continued support from numerous local organizations and volunteers, who are a key part in making this a successful and attractive event every year, Cole said.

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