Central Arkansas' largest annual music, arts and food festival starts Friday night in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock, and organizers are predicting a large turnout.
DeAnna Korte, who has been the executive director of Riverfest for 10 years, said she expects approximately 250,000 people to attend the celebration this Memorial Day weekend and current ticket sales are ahead of what they were this time last year.
The festival — which takes place in and around Riverfront Park, River Market District, the Clinton Presidential Center and Heifer International in downtown Little Rock — will include three days of music with headliners such as CeeLo Green, The Wallflowers and Chicago. Starting this year, admission will be free for kids ages 10 and under. All children's activities inside the festival will be free for kids as well.
People concerned about parking near the festival may use shuttle buses — available at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock and Lakewood Middle School in North Little Rock — to and from the festival for $4 round trip or $3 with a canned food item, Korte said. The buses will pick up passengers from the festival grounds until 12:30 a.m. each night.
Korte said 250 volunteers worked with her all year to plan the festival and over 3,000 volunteers will be staffing the area this weekend. Riverfest has contributed over $1 million to the Riverfront Park during its 36-year tenure and contributes over $33 million in economic impact for the city.
"All hotels you see here are full for the weekend," Korte said. "The restaurants and bars will be hopping over the next three days."
Korte said that while she is excited to see Salt-N-Pepa and CeeLo this weekend, her favorite part of the festival is the opening night.
"Not to be sappy, but the thing I look forward to each year is Friday night," Korte said. "After the gates open, I'll stand up on the stage and look out at the crowd and just seeing the smiling faces, knowing that all the hard work that was put into it by thousands of volunteers has paid off, and everyone here [is] having a great time."
Riverfest tickets are available for $40 at the gate.