People gather in southern Illinois for a jazz festival

CAIRO, Ill. (KFVS) – Residents of the tri-state area gathered this weekend for a jazz festival in the Heartland.

It’s called the 3rd Annual Smooth Jazz on the River Festival and takes place at Fort Defiance Park, just south of Cairo.

The Harold S. Jones Fine Arts Center presents the event which features several artists performing in front of the crowd.

We spoke with Harold Jones who said this event was needed for the area, attracting people from three different states.

“It’s cultural enrichment and enlightenment,” Jones said. “A lot of people love jazz and we give them the opportunity to hear it here locally without having to travel to Chicago or Nashville.”

Bailey Stearns is the director of the Harold S. Jones Fine Arts Center. She said that this event is necessary for this region.

“Anything that can bring a community together and bring smiling faces and a sense of connection is great for any community,” Stearns said.

Jones said he received good feedback on this festival from people in the extended area.

“We’re getting tremendous feedback from across the region,” Jones said. “Not just for people from Cairo, but people have come here from all over, from Marion, Sikeston, Paducah.”

In addition to music, several vendors were selling food and other items.

Jones said he was happy to see so many people enjoying the party.

“We really love bringing musical enjoyment to the people of this area,” Jones said. “They’re embracing it, they’re looking forward to it, and it’s enlightening and rewarding.”

“To see all of these families coming together to enjoy great food and music, to see all of the kids smiling and having fun, it’s great for everyone,” Stearns said.

Willie J. Johnson