The East St. Louis Heritage Festival, a free family event that will look back at the rich history of the city with an eye toward the future, will be held on Aug. 26 at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center.

The announcement was made jointly by the city of East St. Louis, Governor’s Office of the Illinois Bicentennial and Ameren Illinois.

The festivities, which run between noon and 5 p.m., coincide with the bicentennial celebration to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the signing of the first Illinois Constitution in Kaskaskia.

"We are showcasing a nostalgic walk down memory lane with exhibits rarely publicized to be shared with an appreciative audience," said Charlotte Ottley, Heritage Festival coordinator. "Our intention is to make us fall in love again with East St. Louis by learning, sharing and having fun with new and old friends with all roads leading to reinvestment into a brighter future."

Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks will be on-hand to showcase renderings from various developers’ proposals showing what the city will look like in the future.

"When people from East St. Louis meet any place in the world an instant bond is formed based on familiar memories," said Jackson-Hicks. "The conversation begins with 'where do you live or go to church?' Once East St. Louis is the answer the love pours out with laughter and hugs. The next question is 'what’s your family name?' After that the bond is formed and the memories flow. We know the festival will rekindle many fond memories."

The festival will have numerous exhibits, live entertainment with a tribute to Miles Davis by the Bosman Twins; demonstrations, photo booth, market place vendors, a Children’s Village, Church Row hosted by Sparkman’s Magazine; Champions Corner, hosted by Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee; an interactive legacy wall that allows people to designate where their family moved throughout the city hosted by I AM EST Magazine; and an opportunity to listen to the political soapbox with the NAACP.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis will host Health Unit along with BJC HealthCare/Belleville Memorial Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital.

An "East St. Louis Love Legacy Exhibit," by East St. Louis Poet Laureate Eugene B. Redmond, will be an interactive ensemble of collages, murals, mosaics, quilts, pillows, newspapers, magazines, album covers, book covers, photographs, narrative timelines, superimpositions, sculptures, paintings and other memorabilia.

Ameren Illinois is the presenting sponsor for the event. The company recently opened a newly renovated operating center on Broadway Street, and committed millions to modernize the city's electric and natural gas infrastructure.

"Ameren Illinois has a rich tradition of supporting the community of East St. Louis through charitable giving and volunteerism," said Richard J. Mark, president of Ameren Illinois and bicentennial commissioner. "For me personally, having served as president and CEO of St. Mary's Hospital for many years, I will always champion the great city and people of East St. Louis and believe the best is yet to come."

"As we commemorate the people, places and events that have made us Illinoisans Proud over the last 200 years, it is important that we celebrate the rich heritage of East St. Louis," said Stuart Layne, executive director of the Governor's Office of the Bicentennial. "We look forward to joining with the City of East St. Louis on the 200th Anniversary of the state's constitution, August 26th."

About Illinois Bicentennialeaststlouisheritagefestival

On Dec. 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the union. The Illinois Bicentennial is a yearlong celebration of what has been BORN, BUILT & GROWN in the state and a reminder of why we are #IllinoisProud. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the celebration by visiting Illinois200.com, following Illinois 200 on Facebook and Twitter and using the hashtag #IllinoisProud.

About Ameren Illinois

Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 816,000 natural gas customers throughout central and southern Illinois Its service territory covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles. Visit AmerenIllinois.com