Mississippi Earthtones Festival returning to Alton riverfront

The Mississippi Earthtones Festival, a celebration of the river through art, music and conservation, will be held Sept. 21.

The 13th annual event is expected to attract thousands of people to Downtown Alton where the 200-400 blocks of Broadway will be closed to traffic from noon to 10 p.m.

It is co-organized by Alton Main Street and the Sierra Club.

Local artists of all mediums are being recruited to fill the grounds with beauty and creativity, while enhancing the festival for visitors through interactive experiences. Organizers are specifically seeking street artists, textile artists, fashion designers, sculptors, actors, and makers of products from upcycled and natural materials.

Public art grants have been awarded to four artists to build large art installations throughout the grounds from upcycled and natural materials in order to embellish year’s theme of “Time.” The pieces will be incorporated into a fun scavenger hunt throughout the grounds, and volunteers are welcome to participate as actors or planners of the hunt.

Supplies will be provided for eight artists to draw mandalas with colorful chalk on the street. Each registered participant will be given a 10-foot by 10-foot space to create their mandala, which is a concentric design that includes balancing elements symbolizing unity and harmony.

The Riverbend Yarn Bombers are knitting & crocheting a colorful cozy for a full-sized canoe.

Volunteers and staff from Jacoby Arts Center are converting a school bus into an artistic Time Machine as a feature of the event. Help is welcome — email communications@jacobyartscenter.org for details on how to get involved.

Dozens of local artisans and “upcyclers” will offer their nature-inspired, hand-made, and environmentally-friendly wares.

There will be several agencies on hand to teach consumers how to incorporate more sustainable practices into their daily lives, along with companies featuring Earth-friendly products and services.

“At the MEF, we showcase our region’s nature-based programs, as well as local businesses that are working to help “green” residents’ lives,” said Christine Favilla, co-project manager of the Three Rivers Project of the Sierra Club.

Wind-powered music will fill the air from two stages throughout the day. The entertainment line-up includes Sean Canan’s Voodoo Players performing Voodoo Woodstock (a selection of songs played in 1969 to commemorate the festival’s 50th anniversary), NonStop Reggae, Big George Jr. and the NGK Band, Spillie Nelson, and Raw Earth. There will also be a drum circle for all ages; festival-goers are encouraged to bring their percussion instruments.

There is ample parking for festival attendees in the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market parking lot, located at 501 Landmarks Blvd. Guests can simply walk across the pedestrian bridge directly to the event. There will be a selection of local food and beverages on site.

Volunteers are needed for the day of the event, as well as for the MEF litter clean-up on the river on the following Saturday, Sept. 28. To stay up-to-date on announcements, visit: www.facebook.com/EarthtonesFestival.

PHOTO: The Riverbend Yarn Bombers are knitting and crocheting a colorful cozy for a full-sized canoe. The group is open to the public and can be found on Facebook.

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