Villaroo: Blood Not Required

documentary photography // human interest

Project Description

In the heartland of the rural American Midwest, “family” is not defined by the blood in your veins, but by trust and respect built over time. This documentary project offers a glimpse of that bond, as a small group of friends from Villa Ridge, Illinois return home to celebrate new milestones, reminisce over simpler times and indulge on southern cooking and moonshine until the campfire fades away.

Project Detail


May 11, 2013


Villa Ridge, IL


Growing up in small, intimate communities such as southern Illinois, it brings with it a unique lifestyle mix of work, family and countless excuses to light up a grill and fill a cooler with ice, beer and yes, plenty of moonshine. A fermenting concoction of jet fuel level alcohol mixed with watermelon. Locally referred to as “Watermelon Wine”. A recipe perfected by a few, but enjoyed by the many.

It’s a region with fierce independence and relationships that begin at childhood and end in the grave.

This photo documentary was created to reflect that human spirit found here in the midwest. These photos were captured during the aptly named Villaroo Reunion of 2013, in Villa Ridge, Illinois.

For ten years, the two-day event allowed a group of friends the opportunity to return home and share new milestones, reminisce on simpler days, eat too much and drink till the last one dropped.

Time, distance and growing responsibility of life has since pushed the group apart and ended the regular tradition of Villaroo. None the less, it’s evident through the echoes of the core group, that the concept is never far from mind, with an ever-present possibility of rekindling the tradition, always on the horizon.

It’s important to always remember, when you calculate regular friendships in the 10’s of years and find that through those years, time and distance can never deflate your ability to pick up where you last left off… it’s safe to say, your friends are your family.

Documentary project assistance by Nathanael Card.

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