ALTON - In a statement to the region that the City of Alton’s future is brighter than ever, the Mississippi River Festival (MRF) returns to Alton, IL on June 22 for one night of incredible Grammy Award winning musical entertainment.

Two young, local music lovers and believers in the future of Alton have placed much of their creative reputations in reviving this festival after a 44-year hiatus. “We set out to make a statement with the return of the MRF,” said 30-year-old Director of Operations Zack Johnson about himself and 30-year-old MRF Festival Director Nick Bifano. “This festival holds a special place in the hearts and memories of thousands of people throughout the region. Alton is in the perfect position right now to host this event, so Nick and I set out to bring the festival back in 2025. However, with fantastic support from the City of Alton, Great Rivers & Routes, and the Alton community, we decided to go for it this year.”

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The creative duo who work for Rex Productions teamed up with Shift Agency, both in Alton, the City of Alton, Great Rivers and Routes, hit the ground running with only six months to plan this event – and plan they did. They created a proposal and pitched it to the City of Alton through City Council. The festival was approved in mid-March of 2024 and then the really hard work began. Johnson explains, “How things have come together step-by-step, it has been nothing short of a miracle. We’ve found ourselves with our backs against the wall time and time again…and every time the resolution, in my opinion, turns out to be perfect.”

The MRF will take place on June 22, 2024, at the amphitheater in Alton, IL. Headlining the festival will be Larkin Poe, a Grammy Award-winning blues rock band known for their electrifying performances. Nashville’s Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown and 90’s hitmakers Fastball will be providing support. The opener will be FEEL, an up-and-coming rock 'n' roll band that draws inspiration from the late 60s and early 70s, promising an unforgettable musical experience for attendees.

With the concept in place and a strong team at the helm, the City of Alton was awarded a $100,000 grant from the State of Illinois through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) “for the development and implementation of a tourism attraction, concert or festival in Alton.” Great Rivers & Routes tourism bureau also jumped on board to assist in marketing and advertising.

“In this new chapter of the Mississippi River Festival, we want to create memories that will last in the hearts of a new generation of music lovers, just as they have in the hearts of those who attended in the past,” said Bifano. “We know a headliner like Larkin Poe will bridge the gap between the past and the present perfectly." Another driver of the speed in which the festival was planned was the F1 Powerboat Racing Championships weekend from June 21-23, adding an extra layer of excitement and drawing even more visitors to our vibrant celebration. “We knew that the energy the races have generated would help fuel this festival, and we were right. This entire weekend of celebration in Alton is a flashback to the past and an entrance to the future.”

As a team, Bifano and Johnson carry the weighty responsibility of honoring and preserving this legendary musical history, while at the same time, building something that is fresh and addresses today’s entertainment demands. Bifano explains, “Every decision we make respects the past, ensuring that the festival remains a living testament to the spirit of those who built it.”

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Lyle Ward, who spent seven years as concert manager and managing director for the Mississippi River Festival, will be on site at the festival and have vintage festival items on site during the concert for people to enjoy. Currently, there is a new exhibit dedicated to the Mississippi River Festival open at the Madison County History Museum.

A limited number of tickets are still available.

General admission starts at just $25 with reserved and VIP packages also available.

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