Mayor wants downtown music festival

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Mayor Harry Rediger speaks in September at the unveiling ceremony of a new sculpture at the River Heritage Museum in Cape Girardeau. Rediger said Monday he wants a downtown music festival to replace the long-defunct Riverfest.
Fred Lynch

Cape Girardeau should consider staging a downtown music festival to replace the long-defunct Riverfest, Mayor Harry Rediger told fellow council members Monday.

Riverfest was a summer, outdoor festival that was held downtown for 21 years before ceasing operation after the 1999 event.

Rediger raised the idea after the council decided to scrap an effort to finance creation of a trolley-rails sculpture at Main and Independence streets. Rediger said the project lacked the funding to proceed.

But the mayor, who long has championed public sculptures and murals, stressed the importance of art to the community.

"I really think we need to continue to promote the arts," he said at the council's study session in advance of the regular meeting.

Rediger said the arts are important for Cape Girardeau residents and visitors.

The mayor said he would like to see a "music fest."

Rediger's suggestion follows a proposal made in May by a Leadership Cape group with the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce.

That group proposed a new, weekend downtown music festival that could draw visitors to the riverfront. The proposal called for showcasing several bands, including a featured entertainer that would perform on a Mississippi River barge stage.

Also at its study session, the council heard from four applicants to fill the open seat on the council created by the resignation of Ward 6 Councilman Wayne Bowen.

Retired banker Danny Essner said he has been involved in civic activities for years, including serving on the parks and recreation advisory board. "I have always enjoyed serving the council," he said.

Essner said he would like to see police department staffing increased.

Darin Hickey, office manager for an audiology practice and a part-time police officer, said if appointed to the council, he would be "a champion of public safety."

Hickey, who previously worked full time as a Cape Girardeau officer, said he has "been on every street" in the city.

"I want to see our city prosper," he said.

Contractor Ed Thompson stressed his previous experience on the Cape Girardeau School Board.

"No one should come into a position with an agenda," he said.

"Sometimes you need to be a guide rather than a leader," he advised. "You always need to listen more than you talk."

Thompson, who grew up in Jackson, said he would like to see more cooperation between the Cape Girardeau and Jackson communities.

Consultant Teresa Wilke stressed her grant-writing background and her experience in various positions within the federal government.

She served as a special assistant to the deputy chief of staff in President Bill Clinton's administration.

The former director of grant development at Southeast Missouri State University, Wilke said she would bring "my compassion and my intellect and my advocacy for other people" to the council if chosen.

Rediger said the council will make the choice at its Aug. 21 meeting.

At the council's regular meeting, police chief Wes Blair reported more than $79,000 has been raised for the department's K-9 unit, including more than $16,000 from the recent "Sounds for Hounds" benefit concert.

The council set property-tax rates after a public hearing in which no one from the public offered any comments.

Council members approved a resolution supporting a project for SoutheastHEALTH to be financed by industrial-development bonds.

The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved a similar measure of support earlier in the day.

Upgrades in the works at SoutheastHEALTH include construction of a 10,000-square-foot facility in Jackson, acquisition of robotic surgical equipment and a new cardiac pavilion.

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