2nd annual Cairo Heritage Blues Festival - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

2nd annual Cairo Heritage Blues Festival


If you’re a fan of the blues, you might want to take a trip down to Cairo this weekend for the second annual Blues Festival.

Organizers say the blues is a big part of the city’s history.

Lifetime Cairo Resident Pete Watts reminisced back to performances at some venues that used to exist in what is now a crumbling downtown district.

The town welcomed many big-name artists back even earlier in the 1900s, with appearances made by B.B King, Lee ‘Shot’ Williams, and others.

“we just want to see something positive come out of Cairo.” Explained co-organizer Connie Williams “Everybody seems to think it’s always negative coming out of Cairo, but that’s just not true.”

‘Way down in Cairo’ by Stephen Foster and “When You Drop off at Cairo' by Billy Murray are two of several songs in the blues genre based on the city.

Cairo sits on the peninsula where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers converge which allowed Cairo’s emergence as a major steam ferry hub in the early 20th, and late 19th centuries.

Census data shows the town held more than 15,000 people at its peak; a vast difference to the 2010 census which recorded just over 2,000 Cairo residents  

 “we want to do things to make the city grow,” Watts explained, “We want to see it grow, and this is just a part of it.

Cairo is the county seat of Alexander County, which is the poorest county in Illinois.

The 2nd annual Blues and Heritage Festival wraps up Sunday with gospel themed performances.

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