Jasper County is the seventh largest pork producing county in the State of Illinois, so it seemed only fitting to promote a home-grown product and pair it with wine from Illinois wineries.

The Fifth Annual Cork & Pork Festival will be held at Piquet Park in Sainte Marie on Saturday, July 13, starting at noon.

Great adult entertainment will include wine tasting from eight area wineries; an abundance of pork provided by JBS and cooked by Hartrich Meats in Sainte Marie and the Jasper County Pork Producers; live music; a beer garden and souvenirs.

New this year will be a Cork & Pork Jeep Run in memory of John Lybarger, who served on the Cork & Pork committee since the beginning. Registration for the Jeep Run will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday‘ at Picquet Park in Sainte Marie by the water tower and the Jeep Run will leave promptly at 11 a.m. Cost will be $10 per person, with the profits going to Cork & Pork. The stops will include MVP Happy Holler, lrene’s Vineyard, The Hill and Hi Benders. The jeep run will end up back at the Cork & Pork Festival.

Prizes will be given out for the jeep run between 4 and 5 p.m. in the beer garden at the Cork & Pork Festival. You must be present to win. The Pork Food Stand will have a limited amount of pork burgers available for sale for the "jeepers" to take along on the ride. It will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Cork & Pork Festival is featuring a great music lineup. There will be DJ music from noon to 1 p.m., Jake Martin from 1 to 3 p.m., The Smoke Rings from 3 to 7 p.m.; and the band Superbad will wind up the evening, starting around 7:30 until 11:30 p.m. Immediately after Superbad, the Cork & Pork Festival will shut down, the beer garden will be closed and people will be asked to leave, to keep within the boundaries of the liquor license and liquor liability insurance.

Wineries participating are Lasata Wines, Vahling Vineyards, Homestead Vineyards; Kite Hill Vineyards, Fox Creek Vineyards, Castle Finn Vineyards & Winery, lrene’s Vineyard and new this year will be Lincoln Heritage Winery. For a $10 donation, you receive a Cork & Pork Festival wine glass and limited wine tastings will be offered by the wineries, which will also be selling wine by the glass, bottle or case. Wine Tasting hours are slated from noon until 7 p.m. but the wineries are welcome to stay later but not required. Tasters must be over 21 years of age and will be required to show an ID. The wine tasting wrist band will also admit you into the beer garden. If you do not have a wine tasting wrist band, you will be required to show your ID and receive a wrist band to get into the beer garden.

Starting at noon, the Cork & Pork Food Stand will begin serving mouth-watering pulled pork with a choice of Squatter’s Knob BBQ Sauce or Doug McCain's Gourmet Bar-B-Q Sauce. The Porkcicle (America's Cut loin chop on a stick); Pork Burgers; DaBurger sandwiches and Pulled Pork Nachos will be available as well.

To keep people hydrated, bottled water will be offered for sale as well in the food stand. There will be a beer garden featuring both Gray's Wholesale and Koerner Distributing products, starting at noon.

The Cork & Pork Festival, which came about as a fundraiser for the Sainte Marie Foundation with the help of the Jasper County Pork Producers and Hartrich Meats, has grown to help many other organizations in Jasper County. The Cork & Pork Festival Committee was able to distribute $27,000 after the 2018 event and to date has donated over $86,000 back to the community.

The Cork & Pork Festival is manned by over 200 volunteers working two-hour shifts the day of the event. They also rely on volunteers for setup, which will be on Friday, July 12, at 5 p.m. and for cleanup on Sunday, July 14, starting at 10:30 a.m. If you would like to help with setup and/or cleanup, just show up at those times.

For more information about the festival, check out its Facebook page.