Riverfest, the Memorial Day weekend festival that started as an arts-focused event with a heavy emphasis on kids almost four decades ago, will undergo big changes in 2016.
It will become a straight music festival, with a separate ticketed drinks party, and will no longer be held on Memorial Day weekend. Instead, it will be a week later, June 3-5.
It will no longer be a single-ticket three-day event. The family events also will be gone from Riverfest, but instead will be offered by the Riverfest organization on a single day, for free, on April 2.
Riverfest will still begin Friday night, but with the separate ticketed event, Flowing on the River, a wine and craft beer party. The big music shows will be Saturday and Sunday only. No word yet on cost. Drinks and eats will be for sale.
Riverfest has been squeezed by trying to hold down ticket prices for families while costs and competition have escalated for straight music festivals.
So they’ve gone all music for a two-day show, in hopes of serving music fans with better bands.
The family activities will be gone from Riverfest, but they’ll be presented Saturday, April 2, at a free “Springfest.” This will include the usual arts and crafts, tumblers, dogs and family music acts.
The full release:
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Sept. 10, 2015 – The 39th annual Riverfest celebration will take on a new, expanded format with “Springfest” offered free on Saturday, April 2, and the traditional Riverfest music experience, minus the family activities, presented Friday through Sunday, June 3-5.
Springfest will fill Riverfront Park with many of the most popular daytime activities Riverfest traditionally has offered, including International Village; the Super Retriever Series dog jumping competitions; the Jesse White Tumblers and other roving attractions; Ruff on the River, the Rock ’n’ Stroll 5k Fun Run as well as children’s arts and crafts activities. A concert by acclaimed musical duo Trout Fishing in America will close Springfest.
Flowing on the River, the festival’s separately ticketed wine and craft beer event, will kick off Riverfest 2016 on Friday, June 3. As in years past, concerts by top-name musical acts, along with local and regional performers, will be presented on stages in Riverfront Park and the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center on Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5. As always, Market Row vendors and popular Riverfest food and drink merchants will be featured during the weekend.
Ticket prices have not yet been set.
“The cost of booking quality musical acts has accelerated rapidly over the last many years, and Riverfest ticket prices have naturally reflected that trend,” said DeAnna Korte, Riverfest executive director. “We have worried that this has become a financial burden for families and others who aren’t as interested in the evening concerts, so this year we’re presenting many of the classic Riverfest activities for free. And those who want to see the headline concerts will still get that chance for a price that will be very competitive with if not significantly lower than the cost of attending other popular music festivals.”
Korte continued: “We know Riverfest serves two distinct audiences. After almost 40 years – an amazing run for any festival – it is time for a change to ensure all festival-goers’ needs and In 2016, Riverfest will move off Memorial Day weekend for the first time in the festival’s history. Korte said that decision was made “because that weekend traditionally is a time when families go to the lake or engage in other start-of-summer activities. We wanted to remove that barrier as a reason people might not be able to attend Riverfest.”
More specific details for both the April and June expanded Riverfest experiences will be announced as they develop.