MARION -- One of the 165 vendors pleased to make a return trip to the Southern Illinois Made Expo this past weekend was Louie's Seasoning owner Chris Gualdoni of Herrin.
"This is a great event and a lot of the money goes to Veterans Honor Flight, which is a fantastic thing," Gualdoni said. "Senator Fowler's done a great job putting local businesses and manufacturers here. It's great to see what really comes out of Southern Illinois. We did this last year. I enjoy walking around and seeing all the different companies here. Some of these people I deal with on a day-to-day basis and some people I get to see once a year, but it's great. Everybody needs to come and check it out."
Gualdoni's brother, Tony, owns and operates Louie's P & R Grocery and Deli in Herrin. Chris sold his part of the business to Tony years ago and developed a separate business with the preparation of seasonings, particularly Italian beef seasoning.
"This is actually our 20th anniversary with the business," Gualdoni said. "The Italian beef seasoning is our core product. We've expanded to about 2,700 stores in 30 states," he said. "We added our giardinieras, our muffulettas and our pepperoncinis. And four years ago, we purchased a fish breading company out of Benton, Kentucky -- the Fish-n-D-lit -- that's been around since 1952.
"And in about three weeks, we'll have one of our family's pasta sauces come out under the Louie's brand, so it's been exciting."
Gualdoni said he's glad to be a part of the Southern Illinois Made Expo.
"It is one of the few consumer shows we do, and it's a lot of fun," he said.