Mississippi River Festival

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Mississippi River Festival (MRF)
Address SIU Edwardsville
Edwardsville, IL
USA
Coordinates 38°49′N 90°00′W / +38.81°N 90.00°W / +38.81; -90.00
Owner Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Designation Outdoor Theatre
Capacity

1,900 under canvas tent

>25,000 on lawn
Opened 1969
Closed 1980
Years active 12
Website
http://www.siue.edu/~skerber/MRFtext.html

The Mississippi River Festival (aka MRF) was a summer outdoor concert series held during the years 1969-1980 on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois. The Festival was notable due to its central midwest location, the natural ambience of its outdoor venue, and the consistent high quality of performers.
On May 22, 1981, officials at SIU announced there would be no Mississippi River Festival in the upcoming summer.[1]

MRF consisted of a variety of popular rock, folk, bluegrass, and classic music performers.[2] The more popular groups, such as The Who, Yes, Chicago, The Eagles, and the Grateful Dead shows were heavily attended. Some shows attracting crowds in excess of 30,000.[3] It is noteworthy that Jackson Browne appeared as both a backup band (for Yes in 1972 and America in 1973) and ultimately, as a lead act in 1977.[4] He also wrote two of his songs for the live Running on Empty album in a nearby Holiday Inn at the intersection of I-270 and Illinois Route 157. It is estimated that over one million visitors attended MRF over 12 summers.[5]

In July 1969, Bob Dylan did a short surprise gig, together with The Band. It was his first performance since his notorious motorcycle accident in 1966.

Logistics[edit]

The outdoor venue was located on a hill forming a natural amphitheater characterized by a large circus like tent and an acoustic shell at the bottom of the hill and a single entrance area at the top of the hill. Students were able to attend shows at a student discount. The MRF site was designed by the late George Anselevicius and by George Dickie.[6] The tent area contained approximately 1,900 director's style chairs arranged on a white gravel rock surface. Although there was a minimal amount of permanent structures at the venue, the entrance, concession stands, and restroom areas were decorated with large canvas sails designed by Gyo Obata.[7] The mini-roadtrip to the site and meeting friends in the parking areas around the venue were favorite parts of the experience. The parking experience being a 70s youth version of tailgating.

The majority of audience sat on "the lawn" on blankets. Two pathways flanked the lawn area running from the entrance area to the stage area providing a permanent pathway for movement and finding your "spot" in an otherwise sea of blankets. There were restrooms on either side of the venue.[8] For those who attended, there are fond memories of all day outdoor parties with friends and the opportunity to see top concert talent.[9]

Sound Production[edit]

Bob Heil, President and founder of Heil Sound as well as production adviser to national touring groups, such as Grateful Dead and the Who provided sound production for seven years. Ed Drone, of Heil Sound mixed the house sound 6 nights a week for seven years.[10]

Further reading[edit]

Efforts to resurrect this popular event have, unfortunately, been met with challenges mainly due to funding and other limitations of producing such an event in today's environment.[11] The history of the event and an extensive collection of black-and-white photos has been captured in the book The Mississippi River Festival.[12] Additional history and video assembled by Dr. Stephen Kerber is available on a virtual exhibit of MRF located on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville website.[13]

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville commemorated the 40th anniversary of the first season of the Mississippi River Festival with a picnic and dedication of a plaque at the festival site on June 13, 2009[14] [15]

External links[edit]

The MRF in the SIUE Archives


References[edit]

  1. ^ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 22,2014
  2. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  3. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  4. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  5. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  6. ^ http://www.siue.edu/lovejoylibrary/archives/mrf/index.shtml
  7. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  8. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  9. ^ http://www.dead.net/show/august-16-1980
  10. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  11. ^ http://media.www.alestlelive.com/media/storage/paper351/news/2005/12/06/News/Mississippi.River.Festival-1121604.shtml
  12. ^ The Mississippi River Festival. Amanda Bahr-Evola and Stephen Kerber. Arcadia Publishing, Copyright 2006. ISBN 978-0-7385-4132-7
  13. ^ http://www.siue.edu/lovejoylibrary/archives/mrf/index.shtml
  14. ^ http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/illinoisnews/story/CBFB96B34E8C0179862575CB00748F36?OpenDocument
  15. ^ http://www.theintelligencer.com/articles/2009/05/04/local_news/doc49fef53e3581e603530494.txt