Sara McGibany welcomes the audience to What's Up Downtown.

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ALTON - Community members and local leaders gathered at iMerge Community Center for the quarterly “What’s Up Downtown” meeting on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. They shared information about new businesses and local happenings around Alton.

“What’s Up Downtown is our quarterly information exchange that we coordinate to let you hear straight from the horse’s mouth about all the moving and shaking that’s going on in the district,” said Sara McGibany, executive director of Alton Main Street.

Nick Bifano shared information about the Mississippi River Festival, a music festival that was popular in the 1970s and will return to the Alton Amphitheater on June 21–23. Bifano, director of the Mississippi River Festival, and Director of Operations Zach Johnson shared information about the event and encouraged people to attend.

“The music and art scene here is so beautiful, and I feel privileged to just kind of step into it,” Bifano said. “To be a part of that now is so important to us and really means a lot to Zach and I and the whole community.”

Bifano said that he has heard stories about “the conviction and the passion and the energy” around the Mississippi River Festival. While he is aware that they “cannot recapture that same magic,” he is excited to start a new chapter of the tradition and invite newcomers to Alton. He also noted that the Mississippi River Festival will take place during the same weekend as a Formula 1 Powerboat Championship Race, and he hopes to see many new faces in Alton that weekend.

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“I just want to stress to you and urge to you and ask if we could collectively put our town on full display,” Bifano added. “What we love about Alton, what's beautiful about it, what’s convicting about it, why we choose to stay here, to raise our kids here, to own our businesses here, and just get to really create something beautiful together.”

Mary Cordes with the Hayner Public Library District spoke about the library’s services. Hayner Library serves Alton, Godfrey and Foster Township. The library offers a variety of programs and resources to community members, including printing, faxing, databases, technology appointments, reference services, streaming media and more.

Cordes noted that Hayner just started their seed library, which invites community members to trade and plant seeds. They will also begin their annual Summer Reading Program in June. Their Library of Things is another popular new service that allows people to check out items like projectors, telescopes, fishing poles and more. You can learn more about Hayner Library at their official website at

“With all the things I talk about, I want you to rest assured we still have books at the library, too,” Cordes joked. “We welcome you to come and take a look. We have all kinds of programs, services that are going on. We’re not just books anymore.”

Caleb Lewis took the stage to share information about Alton Odyssey Tours, a tour company in Alton that provides haunted and historical tours of the town. He said that they are going to offer Prohibition tours and “Welcome to Alton” tours starting this year with the goal of sharing information about Alton’s history and offerings with community members and tourists.

“We need to really sell Alton,” he said. “I think we have so much potential as a city and I think that a lot of people aren’t aware of what all it has to offer.”

Lewis added that they are launching Grotto Bike Rental out of their building at 112 E. Broadway, which he hopes will provide a family activity for people to enjoy. Their goal is to start the bike rentals in the beginning of July. You can book tours and bike rentals at their official website at

As the night wrapped up, the audience passed around the microphone so community members could share about other businesses or upcoming events. “What’s Up Downtown” is a quarterly meeting. Anyone who wants to know more can contact Alton Main Street at their official website at

More like this:

May 11, 2024 - What's Up Downtown Information Exchange To Be Held Tuesday, May 14, 2024

May 31, 2024 - New Seed Library Initiative Blooms at Hayner Library

Apr 10, 2024 - Hayner Library Connects with Community Through North Alton-Godfrey Business Council, Other Events

Apr 30, 2024 - From Folk Concerts to "Write Your Own Obituary" Classes: Hayner Public Library District's Upcoming Events

Mar 5, 2024 - Hayner Offers Free Eclipse Glasses, Braille Board Games and More with a Library Card

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Whats up Downtown Alton


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