ALTON - 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 12th Annual event falls on September 15th, and promises to attract thousands of people to Broadway, where the street will be closed to traffic between Alby Street and George Street from Noon to 10:00 p.m.

Local artists of all types are being recruited to fill the grounds with beauty and creativity, while enhancing the festival for visitors through interactive art experiences. Organizers are specifically seeking street artists, textile artists, fashion designers, and makers of products from upcycled and natural materials. The Sierra Club is offering grants up to $200 for five artists to build large art installations throughout the grounds. This year’s theme is Positive Energy.

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Supplies will be provided for eight artists to draw mandalas with colorful chalk on the street. Each pre-registered participant will be given a 10’ by 10’ space to create their mandala, which is a complex concentric design representing the universe that includes balancing visual elements, symbolizing unity and harmony.

The Riverbend Yarn Bombers are knitting & crocheting colorful decorations for light poles, trees, fences and other public fixtures to add some liveliness to the streets. The group will be meeting on Broadway leading up to the festival to coordinate and hang the work. The group is open to the public, and all skill levels are welcome. For more details, 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 12:30 on the main stage. Curated by the By Design School of Fashion, located at 136 Front Street, 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!” Participants may submit a maximum of three outfits or articles of clothing. At least 50% of the garment must be made of recycled, reused, or waste materials that would’ve otherwise ended up at a recycling facility or a landfill.

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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, which is closest to the live music. 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 the soaring harmonies of Rogers & Neinhaus as well as Jake's Leg performing their interpretation of the music of the Grateful Dead, as they have been doing in the St. Louis region for over 35 years, and organized drum circles for all ages.

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.

To register for any of these activities, check out the festival map, read the festival’s “Green Guidelines” or sign up to volunteer please visit the Events page of www.DowntownAlton.com

Volunteers are needed for the festival grounds, and for a litter clean-up by boat from 9am-Noon the following Saturday. To stay up-to-date on announcements, please visit: www.facebook.com/EarthtonesFestival.

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