Mississippi River Festival, The
Image Courtesy of Cindy Reinhardt
The marker is located near Edwardsville on the campus of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. It is on North University Drive, about one-third mile south of New Poage Road.
SIUE Alumni Association, the SIUE Foundation, the MRF Commemorative Committee, and the Illinois State Historical Society.
The once world-renowned concert venue Mississippi River Festival ("MRF") began as a pioneering experiment in regional cooperation between Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the St. Louis Symphony. The Symphony was invited to establish residence on the university campus and offer a summer series of concerts and cultural programs in an outdoor amphitheatre constructed on this site. From June 1969 through August 1980, nearly 1.5 million people attending concerts here performed by some of the best artists of the day, including: The Who, Elton John, Judy Collins, Bob Hope, B.B. King, Tina Turner, the Allman Brothers, James Taylor, The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Beach Boys, Henry Mancini, Gordon Lightfoot, The Grateful Dead, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Waylon Jennings, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Guess Who, Chick Corea, Joni Mitchell, Barry Manilow, Bob Dylan, EmmyLou Harris, Smokey Robinson, Stanley Clark, Alan Jackson, Arlo Guthrie, the Ellington Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald, Yes, Itzhak Perlman, Van Cliburn, Willie Nelson, and the Eagles. Crowds found their seats on the grass or sat beneath the spacious "MRF" tent. The excellence of the performances, the unique charm of the setting, and the enjoyment shared by the diversity of the attendees elevated the MRF to legendary status among artists and fans.
SIU-Edwardsville also utilized this site as the location for commencement exercises for twenty consecutive years (1963-1982), involving nearly 35,000 SIUE graduates, who, along with their family and friends, experienced an event here bearing powerful personal historical significance.
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