When it comes to quality of place and workforce retention, a festival with live mural painting, music, food and other entertainment hits the spot.
The MidxMidwst mural art and culture festival is scheduled to debut this weekend in downtown Springfield. It’s highly anticipated after two false starts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Led by founder Meg Wagler, the Sept. 10-11 festival features nine visual artists from across the country, including Springfieldian Wagler, Chicago-based Natalie Shugailo and Florida-based Steven Teller; around 20 musical acts, including well-known indie rock band Strfkr and Dreamer Boy out of Nashville; interactive art installments; dancing entertainment; a light show; live body painting; beer gardens; and vendors. In short, the organizers are packing a lot of unique-to-Springfield fun in one weekend.
What's more, the murals will live on past the festival, creating vibrancy in the downtown corridor that could potentially last generations.
When business leaders discuss efforts to keep young people in this community, this kind of event is exactly what those potential workers are looking for. It has the potential to create positive buzz for this community, much like the annual South by Southwest festival has done for Austin, Texas.
I'm supporting MidxMidwst as a Springfieldian for a couple of reasons. The quality of the artists are stellar, and the precedent this could set if it does well is potentially game-changing. We're not just talking about pleasing residents; this could become a regional draw like Cider Days, for instance, and could increase visitation to the city in general.
A 2017 study by the Springfield Regional Arts Council put the economic impact of the local nonprofit arts and culture sector around $27 million. A 2023 study is being conducted, and that figure is sure to rise.
Springfieldians before have welcomed the arts with open arms. We’ll see if MidxMidwst hits attendance goals of 20,000 people.
I hope to see you at the event. The $60 ticket serves as a vote of confidence that this type of event is viable and needed, and it could lead to years of festivals.
As Springfield continues to search for its identity, embracing the arts will be central to building a community where younger generations want to stay and build a future.
The newest facility for Springfield-based preschool and early child care operator Little Sunshine’s Enterprises Inc. opened; a love of food and cooking spurred Brian Keener to launch Contorto; and a CrossFit gym in Marshfield changed owners.