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Discover Our Local Legends

Recent Feature Stories


Discover Our Local Legends


Visionaries …


              Artists …

Building a legendary destination relies on transforming bold dreams into a passionate reality. The Meeting of the Great Rivers flows with the spirit of our local legends.

Meet some legends here. Better yet, come see them in person.


A Simple Guy

Alton's Mac Lenhardt


If there is one thing Mac Lenhardt, owner of Mac's Downtown in Alton, believes in, it is community. That sense of working together with others has kept him in business in downtown Alton for 35 years. It has helped him survive devastating floods and encouraged his business expansions.

"We all take care of each other here," Lenhardt says in his trademark gravelly voice. "There are a lot of good people in Alton."

For more on Mac's story, click here.

Key West of the Midwest

Jan and Joe DeSherlia

Fifty years ago Grafton city officials dreamed of developing a riverfront marina knowing it would be the key to creating a vacation destination. It took years of planning and the unsuccessful attempts of a series of developers before Joe and Jan DeSherlia took the lead on the project and made it a reality.

Grafton Harbor, known as the 'Key West of the Midwest' opened for business in 2006.

"We knew Grafton Harbor could help tie the region together," Joe Desherlia said.

For more on the DeSherlia's and Grafton Harbor, click here.


A Recipe for Success in Alton


Famous for her pies and half pound chicken salad sandwiches,Ann Badasch, the force behind My Just Desserts in historic downtown Alton, has developed a recipe for success.

And that recipe isn’t just based on the five cases of chickens she and her staff cook and debone by hand on a weekly basis for her sandwiches. It’s also not the dozens of pies created by scratch daily in her kitchen. Or even her famous Tollhouse Brownies. For more on Ann Badasch click here.


People Need to See the Views


On a cold, cold day in February 1989 Ben Allen looked out of a window of a dilapidated building on Grafton’s riverfront and saw the future.

“I came to Grafton and visited the old Boatworks building which had been converted to a mechanical shop. It was run down and in disrepair. I looked out one of the windows and saw the bluffs and the river and knew that people had to see that view too,” Allen remembers.

That visit heralded the birth of The Loading Dock, a premier regional restaurant/bar and entertainment center perched on the edge of the Mississippi River in Grafton. 

“I wanted to create a place where people could come and see the view,” Allen said. “Everyone thought I was nuts.”

The Loading Dock has evolved into an iconic attraction for Grafton and the region. With its round white tables and bright yellow café umbrellas lining the riverfront, it has become the go-to location for anyone who wants to sip a drink and munch on some dock salsa while watching the river flow by.

For more on Ben and Trudi Allen, click here.


Artistic Enterprises


A few blocks from the banks of the Mississippi River, Chad Nelson and Felicia Breen, owners of Mississippi Mud Pottery in Alton, have found their creative and business niche.

Their handmade mugs, bowls, plates and platters are highly sought after by people throughout the region. And the ribbons and awards lining the walls of their shop are testament to their artistic talents.

“Chad and I work really hard to develop and foster the Mississippi Mud tradition,” Breen pointed out during a short break. Mississippi Mud Pottery was purchased by artists Nelson and Breen 10 years ago when the previous owners Ken and Brenda Barnett retired and moved out of state. Mississippi Mud Pottery has been in operation for a total of 34 years.

For more on Chad and Felicia, click here.