WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Emphasis – June 8

Jun 8, 2012

Jason Parrott’s guests are Russ Brown and Scott Smith, who are members of the Burlington Steamboat Days Committee. 

Brown is currently serving as President while Smith is the Vice President for Marketing.

Burlington Steamboat Days American Music Festival is a week-long event that takes place in the parking lot of Memorial Auditorium, along the Mississippi River.

The main stage will be open Tuesday-Sunday, which such artists as Blake Shelton, Twisted Sister and Alice Cooper.

Brown says there will also be carnival rides, drinks, food and special events for visitors of all ages.  He says there is also a tie-in to the Snake Alley Art Fair, which is Father’s Day.

Smith says Burlington Steamboat Days got its start 50 years ago.

“It started back in 1963 when a group of gentlemen, led by the Chamber of Commerce President, wanted to do something for the community,” says Smith.

He says it started as a Dixieland festival with one of the first performers being Louis Armstrong.

“Louis was great to have here,” says Smith, “the night he was playing here, the (bugs) came out of the river and they had to move him inside of Memorial Auditorium because they were sucking down his trumpet.  My father-in-law, who was the first (Steamboat Days) president, apologized to which Armstrong said, ‘It was no big thing.  I just came from Africa and they had mosquitoes the size of sparrows there.’”

Smith says Burlington Steamboat Days has a multi-million dollar impact on the community through ticket sales, food, lodging and shopping.  He and Brown expect 120,000 people to attend the week-long event.

Tickets are being sold online.  They can also be purchased at participating businesses.