By ROBBIE EDWARDS
---- — MT. VERNON — Steel guitar enthusiast and music lovers alike attended the the Southern Illinois Steel Guitar Show on Thursday at the Holiday Inn.
Several in attendance make the guitar show a yearly visit. Sherman Kennedy and Marcie McCarty became acquainted at last year's show. On Thursday, the two music lovers danced in the aisles during Leon Mercer's set.
"I love the show, we were here last year. I come all the way from Indiana. I just enjoy country music," Kennedy said.
"The music is my favorite part of the show. I just love to dance," said McCarty.
During the weekend long event several nationally touring and local musicians will be featured. Some of the acts include: Neal Purnell, Leon Mercer, Gary Lloyd, Vern Mandrell, Bobby Orr, Terry Bethel, Bob Case, Tyler Hall, Mike Hermsmeyer, Russ Hicks, Mike Sigler, Rose Sinclair, Herb Steiner, Mike Sweeney, Joe Wright and special guests, Leona Williams and Ron Williams.
Leona, a nationally known country singer, has participated in the event for four years. Leona says she enjoys the show for several reasons.
"To start with they have some wonderful musicians and steel players that come to this one, and this one is my favorite of all the ones I've been to across the country. Here in Illinois the people are absolutely wonderful and treat me so good," Leona said.
Leona and her son, Ron are scheduled to play during the weekend.
"I sing straight ahead stone cold country music. We have to say true county nowadays to let the fans know what we play because it has changed so much," Leona said.
Leona made it a point to come early to enjoy the music and to catch up with old friends like Cord Fitch, president of Southern Illinois Productions. The two sat together and shared funny stories from working with each other in the past.
All are encouraged to come out for the weekend and enjoy the music. Today and Saturday the doors will open each day at 10 a.m. and the last band will play at 11:30 p.m.
A portion of all money made during the weekend will be donated to the Jefferson County Shriners Children's Hospital.
"We decided to donate to the Shriners Children's Hospital because we wanted it to effect everybody. Its just a great organization and we are very pleased to give it to them," Fitch said.