It’s back with a new name and new location, but the concept remains the same: “to bring awareness to all the great things our area has to offer,” explains Laura Cullinan. “We want to facilitate collaboration and a feeling of community—and really celebrate Peoria and central Illinois.”
Now in its sixth year, the Peoria Food + Wine Festival (formerly known as Peoria Farm to Table) was created by Laura and Allen Cullinan as a way to give back to the community. “We wanted to do something really fun, where you have awesome food and great, high-end wines and spirits,” she notes. “And the money you’re paying to enjoy these things is going to a great cause.”
Indeed, the event has raised more than $575,000 since its inception. This year’s proceeds will support the OSF HealthCare Cancer Institute, which recently began construction on the campus of OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. “We believe the OSF cancer initiative is one of the best things going in the community right now—to provide world-class cancer care, but also to provide an economic boost,” Cullinan adds.
After last year’s COVID pivot—which transformed the large, in-person gathering into a restaurant relief fundraiser—the event is returning to its original form. Participating Peoria eateries including Edge, Hearth, Kemp 208 and Cyd’s in the Park, alongside restaurants from Galesburg (Craft) and Bloomington (Epiphany Farms)—and all of the wines on hand are rated no less than 90 points by Wine Spectator. “We have so many great, non-chain, high-end restaurants in central Illinois,” Cullinan offers. “We’re grateful to have these options, and we want to celebrate that.”
The event also continues a longstanding partnership with Professor Fisher Stolz, head of the sculpture department at Bradley University, whose students create unique sculptural pieces for display. “Fisher has been with us every year since the beginning,” she notes. “It provides a wonderful artistic background for our event.”
The sixth annual Peoria Food + Wine Festival will take place on Thursday, October 14. Newly situated in the green space behind the Pabst Building in Peoria Heights, the event not only has room to grow, the festivities can even spill onto Prospect Road, with its high concentration of high-end restaurants. To purchase tickets or learn more, visit peoriafoodandwinefestival.com. PM