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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 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 clickhere.


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.

Creating an Authenic  Alton

Behind the region’s revitalized music scene and resurgence of Downtown Alton’s historic business district is the energy and passion of Matt and Sara McGibany.

From vendors graduating from a weekend booth at the Alton Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market into brick and mortar storefronts to musicians flocking to the region to experiment with collaborative musical styles, the McGibanys have helped shape the tenor and tone of the area.

“The culture of Alton is cooperative and collaborative,” Sara McGibany, the Executive Director of Alton Main Street, noted. “To create a destination, we all need to join forces and promote the wide variety of artistic ventures that are happening. We are all about linking people with others who share a similar vision for the area. Alton is becoming well known for having a broad spectrum of eclectic things to do.”

For more on Matt and Sara McGibany, 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.