By Keenan A. Mount
Fifteen years ago the lieutenant governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, gave a proposition to municipalities along Illinois watersheds. This proposition was for an annual event that would take place on the third Saturday of September and would commemorate the watersheds throughout Illinois either through education, conservation, or recreation.
The “Mississippi Earthtones Festival” was a direct result of this “It’s our River Day” initiative.
“The festival aims to achieve all three objectives put forth by the initiative to celebrate and honor the Mississippi river,” said Christine Favilla, organizer and co-founder of the event.
In line with this mission statement, this year’s event included educators, artists, musicians, and conservation groups. The artists varied in medium, but for the most part stayed in line with this year’s theme, metamorphosis.
Teresa Rose, an art teacher at Orchard Farm, was creating a chalk art piece as the festival was taking place. She allowed passing children to aid in her process, filling out sections or handing her colors. She has attended the event every year since she moved to Alton, however, this was the first time she was featured as an artist.
She said she was “more than happy to have an opportunity to create publicly” and was “glad to have an opportunity to share the love for art with children.”
A yarn piece created by Autumn Konkol, a member of the Riverbend Yarn Bombers, features a “Mississippi river monster” going through its stages of development, or more aptly, its metamorphosis.
“From egg, to tadpole, to baby, and finally to an adult,” Autumn said.
The piece was created for this event but featured a part of a previous work that was displayed at a former Earth Tones festival. This allowed for a more “meta” metamorphosis, as Autumn cleverly described.
A lineup of musicians contributed greatly to the celebratory atmosphere and included an array of local artists representing different genres. “Sounds of Syla,” an R&B jazz-rock hybrid, opened, and “Jake’s Leg,” a “Grateful Dead” tribute band, headlined.
The event’s organization in and of itself reflected this theme of metamorphosis as it had undergone changes brought on by the pandemic and the relocation to Broadway. However, this isn’t the first time that they have held the festival on Broadway.
“This would be our fifth time on Broadway and, as far as organization goes, we have it down to a science,” Favilla said. Last year’s festival was, however, a first. It featured a scavenger hunt and a drive-in movie experience in lieu of the normal festivities.