Local Festivals to Keep an Eye Out For In 2012

By Jen Evanick

Staff Writer

Keep an eye out for these two festivals next year: Toco Family Festival and The Mississippi Earthtones Festival. Both are a great time and both benefit the community and environment.

The first festival…


Photo: Jennifer Evanick

The 10th annual TOCO Family Festival was held September 9th through the 11th as a fundraiser benefiting the organization Tapestry of Community Offerings (TOCO). TOCO stands for charitable and educational purposes. TOCO assists regional children and families in need through community partnerships and takes a progressive role to promote the community pledge to reduce, reuse, and recycle in hopes of building a strong, diverse, and sustainable community.

In 2010, TOCO kept over 80,000 pounds of materials out of landfill and donated over $7000 to charity. These charities and organizations include The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Camp Ondessonk, The Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois, Lydia’s House, The Center for Women in Transition, The Foundation’s TOCO Single Parent’s Scholarship of Southwestern Illinois College, YMCA of Southwestern Illinois, Helping Hands Food Pantry, Community Interfaith Food Pantry, Guardian Angel Settlement Association, Beacon of Belleville, and the Christian Clothing Ministry.

This non-for-profit festival comes together each year with the help of musicians and volunteers donating their time and talents to support TOCO. TOCO was held at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park (next to Six Flags), giving the children lots of activities to do during the day. Once night time falls, great music starts for the parents to enjoy.  Of the many bands, Aaron Kamm & the One Drops, Following the Water, and Stone Sugar Shakedown were
just a few of the musicians that played.

TOCO celebrates family, friends, and people of all ages coming together to learn how to help others.

For additional information: www.tocofestival.com

The second festival…


Photo: Jennifer Evanick

A group of members from the Bridge Staff ventured their way to the Mississippi Earthtones Festival held on September 17th at the Alton Riverfront Amphitheater and experienced an amazing time. The festival celebrates the Mississippi River through art, music, and conservation.

The most amazing part of this festival is that it is free. The family-friendly atmosphere found numerous ways to celebrate life on the Mississippi River as a part of Governor Pat Quinn’s “It’s our River Day” proposal.

There were many Earth-friendly products and services as well as conservation exhibits and nature craft vendors. Of the many, one of these was the Mustard Seed Peace Project Booth (MSPP). The founder, Terri Cranmer, explains why she was at the festival, “We are raising awareness about the quality of water and promoting our water filter project in Guatemala.”
MSPP is a grassroots non-profit organization whose vision is to support youth in underprivileged countries. By attending to their medical, dental, educational, nutritional, and economic needs MSPP hopes to empower the native youth to become instruments of change in their homes, communities, and countries.

Besides the learning of various ways to help the environments at the festival, visitors could find a great selection of food booths and a beer tent. While enjoying the food, visitors could listen to the live music presented on the main stage all day.  Starting with the River Ramblers, a traditional and contemporary bluegrass band, the Bridge Staff ended the evening with three hours of Grateful Dead music interpreted by Jake’s Leg.  It was a perfect end to the evening.

The Mississippi Earthtones Festival is put on by the Alton Marketplace and the Sierra Club with support from the Nature Institute, the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the city of Alton, The Audubon Center at Riverlands, American Water, Dave Mungenast Alton Toyota Scion, Simmons Firm, Meyer Law Firm, Liberty Bank, and Day and Night Solar.

For additional information: www.RiverfrontAmphitheater.com/Earthtones


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