How did a little city in Southwestern Illinois become the site of a nationally recognized art festival? It started more than 29 years ago when a former alderman, Gene Ellerbusch, visited the Mystic, Connecticut, Outdoor Art Festival and realized that Fairview Heights might be able to present a similar outdoor event. The City Council appointed Mrs. Billy McLemore as head of a committee to explore the possibility. The project had begun.
Mystic was revisited, and other art fairs were contacted, including the renowned Festival of the Masters in Orlando, Florida. When the research was finished, it became apparent that Fairview Heights had the resources and the spirit to present such an event. The decision was made – let’s do it!
The Midwest Salute to the Masters was established with the goal of combining the community involvement of the Mystic show with the ultra-high standards of the Orlando “Masters” show. After much hard work and untold hours of planning, the first Midwest Salute to the Masters was held on the weekend of October 1st and 2nd 1988. It was received with both critical and popular acclaim!
Today, the show is known as the Midwest Salute to the Arts. The all volunteer staff continues to work toward the common goal of presenting one of the premier art festivals in the country.