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MAIN STAGE SCHEDULE                   
12:00-12:15 Mayor Walker reading MEF Day proclamation to kick off the festival
12:15-12:30 Karen Hagerty of the US Army Corps of Engineers - Upper Mississippi River Restoration Project
12:30-2:00 Recycled Fashion Show
2:00-4:00 River Bend
4:00-4:10 Confluence Conservation Leadership Award
4:10-4:20 ACOE - Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program
4:20-4:30 Kids Percussion Parade
4:30-6:30 Hideous Gentlemen
6:30-6:55 Drum Circle
6:55-7:00 Colorfest
7:00-10:00 Jake's Leg
12:00-2:00 Erin Jo Paddlefoot
2:00-3:00 Celia Shackattack's Sing-A-Long Dance Party
3:30-5:30 The House Band
5:30-6:00 Drum Circle & Kids Percussion Parade

The Mississippi Earthtones Festival, co-organized by Alton Main Street and the Sierra Club, is a celebration of our river through art, music, and conservation. This 10th Annual event falls on September 17th, and promises to attract thousands of people to Broadway, where the street will be closed to traffic between Alton Street and Henry Street from Noon until 10:00 p.m.  

“At the MEF, we showcase our region’s environmental organizations, as well as local businesses that are working to help “green” residents’ lives,” said Sara McGibany, Executive Director of Alton Main Street. “We encourage the community to join us for this momentous occasion and spend the day exploring the wide variety of locally-owned businesses on Broadway."

Start the day out right by participating in the MEF River Clean Up. Approximately 21 tons of trash have been removed from the Mississippi River during MEF clean-ups to date, and the goal is to hit the 25 ton benchmark at this year’s event. More than 20,000 volunteer hours contributed so far. Starting at both 9:00 and 9:30 a.m., boats will ferry volunteers to clean up riverbanks and islands from the Alton Public Boat Access under the Clark Bridge as well as from Piasa Harbor on the River Road. Pre-registration is required to reserve your seat in the boat. Volunteers are also needed in the festival grounds, and anyone who pitches in will receive a free festival t-shirt. Sign up on the Events page of www.DowntownAlton.com.

To kick off the festival at Noon, Mayor Brant Walker will present a proclamation at the Main Stage that the 3rd Saturday in September will henceforth be known as “Mississippi Earthtones Festival Day” in Alton. Following, Karen Hagerty of the US Army Corps of Engineers will address the crowd to share details of their Upper Mississippi River Restoration Project. At 12:30, the By Design School of Fashion will present a Recycled Fashion Show; designers are still welcome to submit garments made from materials that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill or recycling facility. At 4:00, three local champions for the environment will be presented with the Confluence Conservation Leadership Award.

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. “Festival-goers will have many chances to have a positive effect on the environment that day,” said Christine Favilla, Three Rivers Project Coordinator for the Sierra Club. “They can get easy tips on things such as winterizing their homes and conserving water, or bring along the following materials to be recycled: plastic plant pots, cell phones, eyeglasses, hearing aids, old home & garden tools and clean plastic food containers to be made into percussion instruments for music-making at the event.”

A variety of fun and educational activities are planned for families. Check out furs, bones, and rocks that highlight our bluff area at The Nature Institute booth, paint a flower pot with the Community Cultivators and plant seeds to take home, play with a Floodplain Simulation Model with the National Great Rivers Research & Education Center - participants will have the opportunity to “make it rain” on the model, and observe flooding effects given different land use types, such as a parking lot versus a wetland. They will be able to engineer dams and levees in the model to stop the flooding.

The Sierra Club will offer an instrument making booth using natural or re-used materials. The
Illinois Department of Natural Resources will offer their interactive Wildlife Trailer and felt fishing game for kids, and 1 Mississippi will be doing a make-it-and-take-it craft for kids. Grassroots Grocery will highlight their free fruit program for kids at the store and garner donations for its future success.

The Hayner Public Library District will share historical photographs and other resources on the relationship between the Mighty Mississippi and the Riverbend area, and bring an Orion StarBlast telescope to teach visitors about their telescope program. They will also provide lists of books in their collection that deal with environmental sustainability - some will even be available to check out from the booth, and you can sign up for a library card on-site!

The Community Supported Garden at LaVista will offer sustainable produce; the Alton Museum of History & Art will present on river history and folk art from our area, the Better Building Institute will teach about energy efficiency, zero-energy home building, energy audits and offer a “toss the sunbeam-bag into the solar panel” game for kids. The McCully Heritage Project & Center for American Archaeology will highlight programs in Kampsville & share info about archaeology in the Illinois River Valley.

Dozens of local artisans will offer their nature-inspired, hand-made, and environmentally-friendly wares. You’ll find wearable art such as tie dyes, alpaca wool items, knit clothing, crocheted accessories, and upcycled jewelry. A variety of handcrafted body care products will be available, such as plant-based and goat milk soaps, all natural deodorants, lip balms and organic beard oils, and essential oils. Find unique home décor, such as: glass bottle wind chimes, nature themed artwork and photography. Other functional handmade items available for purchase include: hand turned wooden bowls and vessels, hardwood kitchen utensils and cedar bird houses. Beverly Farm Foundation will be presenting artwork from residents at their booth. Vendor applications are still being accepted.

Other special features include an area designed by Heartlands Conservancy called a temporary “parklet” (a sidewalk extension that provides more space and amenities for people to use the street), which will allow them to engage citizens in discussions about the importance of parks and green space in the urban environment. EFS Energy will provide a solar-powered sunflower cell phone charging station. Many animal experts will be on-hand at MEF for questions and answers! Learn about and visit with rehabilitated creatures at the Treehouse Wildlife Center booth, and get up close and personal with a bald eagle and large owls with the World Bird Sanctuary.

The University of Illinois is pleased to announce that its Illinois Natural History Survey - Great Rivers Field Station will be having an open house for their new facility in the Hunterstown neighborhood to coincide with this event. There will be a free shuttle running every 10 minutes from Noon-5:00 p.m. to provide attendees with transportation. Catch the shuttle at the corner of Broadway & Henry Street, at Grassroots Grocery located at 415 Ridge St., or at 918 Union Street - the address of the river research facility. Lovett's Restaurant will be having a fish fry on-site and the public is invited to stop by to learn more about their important work.

Wind-powered music will fill the air from two stages throughout the day. The entertainment line-up on the Main Stage will feature River Bend performing traditional Bluegrass from 2:00-4:00 p.m., Hideous Gentlemen playing American Bottom Rock from 4:30-6:30, and from 7:00-10:00 p.m. Jake's Leg will perform their interpretation of the music of the Grateful Dead, as they have been doing in the St. Louis region for over 35 years.  The Confluence Stage will feature Erin Jo Padlefoot from Noon – 2:00 p.m., Celia’s Sing-A-Long Dance Party for kids from 2:00-3:00, and acoustic rock from The House Band from 3:30-5:30.

There will be instrument-making activities for kids using recycled materials, and organized drum circles for all ages.  Anyone interested in learning the art of hoop dancing is welcome to attend two free workshops offered by the Hoop Factory at 3:00 and 5:00. At 6:55, right before the headlining band takes the stage, guests will enjoy “Colorfest” where anyone interested in being turned into a human tie-dye can purchase packets of brightly-colored corn starch to toss into the air in a designated area. Dress appropriately, or grab a complimentary white t-shirt that will be distributed on-site. Guests will enjoy watching street artists draw large colorful chalk mandalas during the event, and checking out the decorations on light poles, trees and other fixtures courtesy of the Riverbend Yarn Bombers.

Come hungry because there will be a great selection of local food & beverages on site. The Old Bakery Beer Co. will be serving Mediterranean veggie sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, Billy Goat Chips, & street corn. Bluff City Grill’s menu includes pulled pork & pulled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs (plain or loaded with pulled pork), black bean and veggie burritos, chicken, pork or black bean nachos, plus sides of potato salad, pasta salad, cole slaw and chips. Indian Sunshine Cuisine will offer Indian, Punjabi and Bulgarian cuisine, featuring a chicken curry and rice bowl, vegan or vegetarian curry and rice bowls, and vegetarian or chicken salad wraps plus iced coffee or fresh squeezed lemonade. Team Honduras will be serving walking tacos and drinks to fund an upcoming mission trip, Sweet Addictions will offer homemade hot chocolate, hot chocolate floats, chocolate covered strawberries and cheesecake, caramel apples and Tropical Sno. First Stop Bake Shop adds to the dessert offerings with raspberry cream brulee, carrot cake cupcakes, spritz cookies, and candied spice walnuts. And a festival wouldn’t be complete without a bag of Hot Poppin' Kettle Corn!

Broadway businesses are preparing to roll out the red carpet for the crowd, and a number of shops will have displays and merchandise on the sidewalk, such as The Gift Box, Alton Stained Glass Works, 1904 General Store, and Party on Broadway. Piasa Body Art will have a booth outside their shop offering temporary tattoos for festivarians, and attendees can visit with a real woodland fairy at It’s Raining Zen. Mississippi Mud Pottery is hosting a "clay village" in their parking lot, and local potters are welcome to jump on board to sell their wares and demonstrate their craft on-site. They are also offering a storewide 10% discount on any in-stock merchandise. Golden Road Organics will share information about the propagation of plants, sustainable agriculture practices, seed storage, “lasagna gardening”, and the preparation of organic teas.

At 2:00 p.m. a gallery discussion will be hosted at Jacoby Arts Center by Sun Smith-Foret, with Megan Singleton & Danne Rhaesa, who are featured in the Natural Force exhibition that runs through September 24th. This is a chance to hear first-hand about the intricacies of their creative processes in the development of their eco-conscious, nature-inspired works. The gallery is located within walking distance, just one block from the festival grounds at 627 E. Broadway. Dark Horse Art Works is coordinating a complimentary exhibit in the event space at Old Bakery Beer Company to coincide with the festival, called ArtHeads. Models are artists are being accepted into this avant garde show that will put psychedelic and blacklight face painting techniques on display. For full details, contact Eric Stauffer at darkhorseartworks@gmail.com.

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. Handicapped parking is available at the Crown Vision Center corporate office, located at the southwest corner of Broadway and Alton Streets, between Mineral Springs Mall & Wilson's Antiques. 

This 10th annual festival is held annually on the 3rd Saturday in September, as part of the State of Illinois’ “It’s Our River Day” initiative to celebrate Illinois watersheds through education, recreation and conservation. Alton’s free community river celebration would not be possible without the generosity of its sponsors. Alton Main Street and the Sierra Club express their sincere appreciation to the following local businesses and organizations for supporting the event: The Telegraph, Riverbender.com, WBGZ Radio, AdVantage News, Simmons Hanly Conroy, Argosy Casino Alton, Liberty Bank, IL Natural History Survey Great Rivers Field Station, IL Prairie Research Institute, It's Raining Zen, TheBANK of Edwardsville, Ardent Mills, Madison County Planning & Development, Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, Great Rivers Land Trust, Environmental Protection Agency, Bluff City Grill, Old Bakery Beer Co., StraightUp Solar and St. Peter's Hardware.

To stay up-to-date on announcements, please visit: www.facebook.com/EarthtonesFestival.



World Bird Sanctuary
1 Mississippi
Treehouse Wildlife Center
Sierra Club
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Community Cultivators' JHDG and Grassroots Grocery
Hayner Public Library
The Nature Institute
Face painter - Marcie Theissen
McCully Heritage Project & Center for American Archaeology
IL American Water trailer
Carriage House Studios

Sierra Club
Community Supported Garden at LaVista
Alton Museum of History & Art
Better Building Institute
General Grass
BearKamp Farms
sHe Handmade Soaps
CC Unique Designs
Calico Arts Project / Doterra
Vivacious Lathers
Jacob Sunroom & Exteriors
Sazzy Fashions 
EFS Energy
Heartlands Conservancy
Green Thumb Nursery

Old Bakery Beer Co.
Bluff City Grill
Indian Sunshine Cuisine
Team Honduras 
Hot Poppin' Kettle Corn
Sweet Addictions
First Stop Bake Shop
Edible Art Bakery at Jacoby Arts Center

Kind Vibe Creations
Ladonna's Market
Lataua Applegate
Cleaver Endeavors
Once Upon A Design
The Smelly Gypsy
Jabberwock Emporium
Knothedz Photography 
Scott Schlapkohl Creations
Spider Web Arts
State Street Soap Co.
Morning Glory Carvings
Tekhipee Tie Dyes & Art
JMC Design
Cope's Soap
What Wood Kevin Do
Golden Road Organics
Beverly Farm Foundation
Piasa Body Art


mef festival map

Listen to a 2015 interview with Sara McGibany about the Mississippi Earthtones Festival: