ALTON - A new mural in Alton commemorates the Mississippi River Festival.

Located on the side of what was once the old Royal Office Products building on Broadway and Piasa Street, the mural showcases the Mississippi River Festival (MRF) logo with the addition of a hand and arm. There are several Alton landmarks painted on the arm, including the Clark Bridge and the Piasa Bird. Nick Bifano, the director of the Mississippi River Festival, explained the importance of the mural to the MRF mission.

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“We just thought this would be a really cool addition to the town,” Bifano said. “We initially were like, let’s just get the logo up, one, for visibility of the festival, but then two, the MRF was all about art and culture, and I think anytime you see art in a downtown space, it kind of brings the town to life in a cool way. There’s tons of other iconic murals in Alton.”

REX Productions, LLC, owns the Mississippi River Festival. Bifano, who works under them, collaborated with designer Jordan Bauer to decide on the design of the mural. They hired artists Joe Albanese of Fly Rite Signs and Caleb Hauck with Someone Else Signs to paint the mural.

Bifano said the group was out until 2 a.m. last week projecting the design onto the side of the mural. Hauck, an Alton-based artist, did much of the painting over the past few days. The mural was officially completed on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

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“My jaw was on the floor watching these guys work,” Bifano said. “It’s really just a testament to their craftsmanship. I think the final product turned out incredible.”

The MRF is scheduled for Saturday, June 22, 2024, at the Alton Amphitheater. Larkin Poe, a GRAMMY-award-winning band, will headline the show, supported by Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, Fastball and special guests FEEL.

The MRF is a longtime Riverbend tradition, held at SIUE from 1969–1980. Many people are looking forward to renewing the tradition this year. Bifano noted that they are trying to keep the previous attitude of the MRF, which prioritized music and public art displays similar to this new mural.

“I’m a transplant in Alton. I moved here in 2020, and I was just immediately struck by the kind of art-forward attitude that Alton had,” Bifano added. “The original attitude of the Mississippi River Festival from 1969 to 1980 was just excellence in all areas of art and performance…So we knew that we wanted to take that same mentality into our festival moving forward.”

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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