Mississippi River Festival Commemoration Committee
The MRF Commemoration Committee is a collaborative effort involving the SIUE Alumni Association and the SIUE Foundation. The committee was formed when SIUE Foundation Board President Sandy Hardy Chinn took on the task of celebrating the historical significance of the Mississippi River Festival.
The MRF Commemoration Committee members include:
The committee has secured approval from the Illinois State Historical Society to have a plaque prepared, which will be installed near the entrance to the main parking lot of the former concert venue. This is just an initial step in what could be further efforts to commemorate the significance of a piece of cultural history which no other university can claim. The concept being developed by the committee DOES NOT include an attempt to resurrect the MRF site as a concert venue. The committee has proposed the possible development of a green space to be used primarily as a quiet space for walking, remembrance, contemplation, self-awareness, and the enjoyment of nature. The committee may also develop additional plans based upon community, university, and alumni response.
About the Mississippi River Festival
The Mississippi River Festival was a world-renowned concert venue which began as a pioneering experiment in regional cooperation. SIUE invited the St. Louis Symphony to establish residence on campus and offer a summer series of concerts and cultural programs. Those programs were offered in an natural outdoor amphitheater on the SIUE campus. A tent was erected under which the artists could perform regardless of weather. The inaugural season began in June 1969 with the final season coming to an end in August 1980. During that period, almost 1.5 million people attended the concerts and events featuring more than 350 artists and performers. Those performers included the biggest names of their day, and covered a wide array of genres. The artists ranged from the Who, Elton John, Bob Dylan, the St. Louis and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, Itzhak Perlman, Van Cliburn, Bob Hope, Chicago, the Doobie Brothers, Joni Mitchell, Barry Manilow, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, to the Eagles. Crowds were afforded the opportunity to find a spot on the grassy hillside for a small fee, or sit in chairs beneath the MRF tent for just a few dollars more. The excellence of the performances, the unique charm of the setting, and the enjoyment shared by the diversity of attendees elevated the Mississippi River Festival to legendary status among artists and fans. The Festival also afforded hundreds of SIUE students the opportunity to work in positions ranging from food services to transporting the artists who performed there. SIUE also used the natural amphitheater as the site for commencement exercises from 1963 to 1982, providing almost 35,000 graduates and their families a piece of significant personal history.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the MRF Commemoration Committee, please contact Steve Jankowski at 618-650-2346 or email@example.com.