By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
After having a successful Tin Ceiling Tour a year ago as part of its Downtown After 5 event, officials of the Downtown Mt. Vernon Development Corporation are counting on an encore event this spring.
This year's ninth annual Downtown After 5 theme is "Building Tour with a Taste of Mt. Vernon." It will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on April 18.
Guided tours of three rehabilitated buildings in the downtown Mt. Vernon area will be given. This year's featured buildings are the former Jefferson State Bank building at the corner of Main and 10th streets, owned by Brian Edmison; Bevis Real Estate at 114 N. Ninth St.; and One Stop Flooring of America at 318 S. 10th St.
"It seems like each year we have something to show the community about what's happening downtown and the progress we've made over the years. This year is no exception," said Cyndy Mitchell, executive director of the DMDC.
Mitchell said the former bank building was renovated by Edmison, adding, "He has renovated that, and it's just beautiful. Anyone who has not been in that building for awhile will be surprised." Southern Illinois Vein Center is one of the major tenants of the building.
Renovation has also taken place at Bevis Real Estate in the former Wielt's Plumbing building.
"They have renovated and restored all the woodwork and shelves. It once was a clothing store," Mitchell said. "It's really quite attractive."
Larry Lyday's transformation of a former laundromat is indeed a crown jewel for the downtown area. Lyday recently held a ribbon-cutting for his renovated building after the business moved from the shopping center on 10th Street, just a few block south of the current location.
"Larry took on an innovative project and it's beautiful. He's done an excellent job. It enhances that whole quarter of 10th Street," Mitchell said.
Following the tours, guests who pay $10 as the cover charge for the event will be able to enjoy the Taste of Mt. Vernon at the Mt. Vernon Elks Lodge at 1107 Jordan St. Over 300 guests attended the event last year, resulting in Elks' officials deciding to open up the banquet room.
"We had about 200 people two years ago and over 300 last year. People have seemed to enjoy it," Mitchell said.
Food vendors include the Elks, Ninth Street Grill, Agave, Borowiak's IGA deli, Kroger deli, Koerner Distributing Co., Smokin Good Times Barbecue, Smokin' T's Barbecue, and Genkota Winery.
"We're also going to have live music by Moonbeam, and a brief guest appearance by Blend, a do-sop acapella group from Southern Illinois. The group will be performing the following evening, April 19, at the Granada.
Mitchell emphasized the admission charge will be used exclusively for downtown revitalization projects.
The Downtown After 5 event is the springboard for many other events during the spring and summer months hosted by the DMDC.
"We are going to expand our First Fridays, usually in June to August, from May through October. The event is held on the first Friday of every month," Mitchell said. "It's selective, but it will be a festival along Ninth Street that will includes artisans and food vendors. We tried it last year and it was well-received."
Barb D'Arcy is the DMDC promotions chairman. Those interested in the First Friday programs may contact her or Mitchell at 242-6866.
MItchell said the organization is also planning a beautification day in June, an event that will replace the annual Cleanup Day.
"We want downtown to be a destination and the renovations over the years have helped us toward that end. We still think downtown has a lot of potential," Mitchell said.