Beyond the Stage: Building a community

It goes back to the ancient Greeks at Delphi in the 6th Century B.C.: they held multiple-day events that included music and athletic competitions. Throughout the Middle Ages, Celtic and Gaelic cultural fairs promoted music, with a dance competition as the main event. In Europe, large gatherings of the upper class listened to classical music. Throughout the 1960s, music festivals were a way to express counter-cultural views, meeting grounds for political activism and change.

Today, music festivals are a mainstream summer staple, all about connecting people through music, fun and good vibes. And all about connecting brands with a captive audience looking for new experiences.

Enter experiential marketing. It's a marketing strategy that puts brands in the same place as a large audience usually made up of Millennials and younger, people who are ready to be wowed by fun experiences built by brands vying for their interest that leads to their loyalty that leads to their business. It's the model Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was built off of and continues to prove each year in the Colorado Desert of California, and that festivals closer to home like Lollapalooza in Chicago and Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, are also built from.

It's an event that makes sense in a regional hub like Cape Girardeau: as a destination for shopping, dining and entertainment, Cape already pulls in people from towns in the surrounding region for mainstream artist concerts, indie musician house concerts and local musicians in bar and restaurant venues across the city. A festival experience adds one more opportunity to grow the music scene in Cape Girardeau. And it goes beyond the festival: many festivalgoers from out of town spend money on hotel rooms, food, gas and drinks. As the festival continues to grow and become a fall destination event, it will continue to pump revenue into our city while providing an opportunity for local businesses and brands to connect with potential consumers.

Because the Shipyard Music Festival isn't just a concert. Nonprofits, local and regional businesses, restaurants and organizations are coming together in celebration of community to create an experience for festivalgoers to enjoy good vibes, food, drink and music, bringing a national-level music festival to our own backyard. It's an opportunity for local businesses and brands to connect with this group of potential consumers who are choosing the brands they spend their money with differently than previous generations, an audience that bases their buying decisions on the mission behind businesses and what businesses show them they can do for them: an audience largely comprised of Millennials and young families.

It's an audience The Scout daily email of good news from Southeast Missouri and beyond strives to connect with each weekday. The email is a product of rustmedia and was built in conjunction with the Shipyard Music Festival, to continue building and connecting the community throughout the year. Written in a distinctive cheeky voice, The Scout is created with the young and young at heart in mind, helping to make its readers the most interesting people at the party. It's content that delivers and helps promote the Shipyard Music Festival, at the same time the festival helps promote daily email.

In this vein, experiential marketing benefits a brand in three ways: it engages the consumer, helping them associate your brand with a positive experience, creating a connection by showing them how their life might be better if they used your product. It also functions as a data collection point, providing an opportunity to gather ever-valuable email addresses and other personal information about your potential consumer. And finally, it helps consumers understand your product through their participation in it.

"Most people go out of their way to avoid commercials, yet most will also go out of their way for a new experience," writes Steve Olenski in the August 2018 Forbes article "3 Reasons Why CMOs Should Embrace Experiential Marketing." "That's why experiential marketing works so well. Tie your brand or product to a fun experience, like a live event, and consumers are more likely to get the message."

It's why a third of CMOs plan to devote 21 to 50 percent of their budget to experiential marketing efforts over the next several years, a Freeman Global Brand Experience Study reports. And it makes sense: Olenski writes 65 percent of consumers say live events and product demonstrations helped them fully understand a product better than any commercial or other method could.

It's something local and regional businesses are getting on board with for the Shipyard Music Festival. St. Louis' Music Record Shop will be on site at the festival with a mobile vinyl shop and meet and greet experiences with Shipyard performers. The St. Louis company Tunespeak, who is in the business of helping musicians build their brand by connecting with fans, has partnered with Shipyard to offer a ticket giveaway sweepstakes for the festival. To win, fans participate in completing tasks such as sharing the sweepstakes page on social media, following Shipyard artists' Spotify playlists and subscribing to Shipyard musicians' YouTube channels. Each completed task earns fans more entries into the giveaway.

Similarly, for River Radio in Cape Girardeau, partnering with the Shipyard Music Festival is a natural fit that just makes sense.

"Shipyard Music Fest is a perfect fit for River Radio to sponsor, as it promotes the arts and entertainment and community," says Mike Renick, operations manager at River Radio -- Cape. "We look forward to year two and being a part of this great event."

And this year, Shipyard welcomes La Croix Church to its list of sponsors. The organization sees the event as an opportunity to connect in a positive and fun way with people, as real people outside the walls of a church.

"Unfortunately, the church is usually known for what it's against," says Josh Reeves, creative arts director at La Croix Church. "I love being part of a church community that wants to break that stereotype. La Croix Church is for people, relationships, growth, culture, art, fun, family and this community."

Our sponsors are working hard to build engaging experiences they'll use to connect with fans from Southeast Missouri and beyond. But you don't have to take our word for it. Here, we give you a preview of a few of the experiences Shipyard sponsors will bring to festivalgoers to connect with them September 27-28, 2019, at Ivers Square in downtown Cape Girardeau:

Isle Casino

Don't know how to play blackjack? Change that at the Shipyard. The Shipyard presenting partner will don their teaching hat at the festival, coaching people on how to play the game in a risk-free setting. And of course they'll be giving away tons of prizes to engage potential consumers and build their brand.

United Airlines

United Airlines is giving away round-trip tickets to Chicago. If you've been feeling the need to get away, be on the scene to discover how you can win. Bon voyage.

River Radio

Thanks to River Radio, you don't have to worry about what to do in between sets on the main stage: our broadcasting friends are constructing a side stage for acoustic acts during stage turnovers. Grab a drink and chill.

Drury Hotels

A music festival staple, every national music festival has their version of the Instagram-ready destination picture frame. Drury Hotels is ready with the Shipyard version: they've built a beautiful frame for you to stand in for a photo opp, complete with background of the Shipyard stage.

Saint Francis Healthcare System

True to their mission of serving the community, Saint Francis will be providing First Aid throughout the festival. And bring your water bottle to help save the environment and the money in your pocketbook: they are also supplying a filtered water trail

er so you can fill up your bottle with free, cold water all festival long.

Visit Cape

Your friend couldn't make it to the Shipyard? Send them happy vibes by helping to complete a hand-printed letterpress postcard made right here in Cape G. Fill out the postcards, address them and send them to friends and family across the country at the on-site Visit Cape/Shipyard postbox. Together, we can help promote the cool things happening in the City of Cape Girardeau. Wish you were here.

Bud Light

The Bud Light beer garden doubles in size for 2019, expanding to include two service areas, extra seating and more lawn games. Bud Light will also be bringing a variety of interesting beer products to serve, along with all of your old favorites. Of course.

The Bank of Missouri

Get ready to put your Shipyard experience to good use: the bank is donating up to $2,019 to area causes through the 2019 Shipyard Music Festival. The catch: festivalgoers determine how the money is allocated by participating in on-site experiences at Shipyard. Look at how much good we can do together.

La Croix Church

La Croix Church is building a "Shipyard Oasis" complete with furniture, lawn games and charging stations to help festivalgoers unplug and relax. They will also be providing a free, pop-up coffee shop in their homey space. Yeah, we just said "free" and "coffee."

And you know we're going to load you up on-site with grub from the best local eateries, including mary jane, El Sol, Gabriel's Food + Wine and Imo's Pizza. And we're creating experiences for the kiddos, too: if they're 10 and under, they get into the festival for free and can participate in activities like face painting, crafts, sand tables and games at the kids' tent. Because if the kids aren't having fun, nobody's having fun.

Want to see what all this hype about experiential marketing is about while enjoying your new favorite bands? Grab your ticket at And to be the first to receive updates on all things Shipyard, including giveaways and contests for prizes from our sponsors, sign up for the Scout daily email of good news from the Southeast Missouri region and beyond at

We'll see you at the Shipyard, September 27-28, 2019, at Ivers Square in Cape Girardeau.