Mandala creation at 2018 MEFThe 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 13th Annual event falls on September 21st, and promises to attract thousands of people to Downtown Alton where the 200-400 blocks of Broadway will be closed to traffic from Noon to 10:00 p.m.

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’ by 10’ 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. Any fiber artists who are interested in contributing are invited to bring supplies and meet at Bottle and Barrel, located at 554 E. Broadway, on August 20th or September 3rd from 6:00-8:00 p.m. The group is open to the public, and all skill levels are welcome. For updates, search for the “Riverbend Yarn Bombers!” group on Facebook.

Designers are welcome to submit their work for a Recycled Fashion Show to be presented at 5:00 on stage. Curated by Jacoby Arts Center and the By Design School of Fashion, the show encourages artists to utilize waste by creating garments that turn it into fashion. “Stretch your imagination and think big,” says coordinator Lillian Bates, “in researching this trend in the eco-fashion world, we have seen stunning garments made from materials such as used newsprint, aluminum cans, plastic, decks of cards, VCR tape, candy wrappers, packaging, wire, and more!” There are categories for Youth, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Trashiest and Classiest outfit. The majority of the garment must be made of recycled, reused, or waste materials that would’ve otherwise ended up at a recycling facility or landfill.

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, please email for details on how to get involved. The cosplay community is invited to participate in a costume contest at 1:00, featuring time traveler and steampunk outfits that have been handmade from upcycled materials. Once the contest is completed, participants will enjoy a promenade down Broadway to show off their costumes and gear. For full details, please search “Time Travelers Invasion Costume Contest” on Facebook.

Dozens of local artisans and upcyclers will offer their nature-inspired, hand-made, and environmentally-friendly wares. Vendors may choose to set up from either Noon-6pm in the Eco-Zone, or Noon-10pm in the Art Zone. Applications are still being accepted.

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. Be sure to come hungry because there will be a great selection of local food & 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, September 28th. To stay up-to-date on announcements, please visit:

To register for any of these activities, check out the map, read the “Green Guidelines”, or sign up to volunteer please visit


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