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Riverfest creates second festival, moves music to later dates

By Joseph Price

This article was published September 15, 2015 at 11:03 a.m.

People who are used to attending Riverfest on Memorial Day weekend will need to alter their plans in 2016. For those who stop by the event for the daytime family activities, the ever-rising entrance fees will be a thing of the past because there is now an event just for them.

Springfest, a free festival set for April 2 at Riverfront Park, will be the new home of the nonmusic activities that bring many families to Riverfest. Those events include the International Village, Super Retriever Series dog jumping competitions, the Jesse White Tumblers, Ruff on the River and the Rock ‘n’ Stroll 5k Fun Run, as well as the arts and crafts for children.

“We felt like it was a good time to kick off spring,” Riverfest Executive Director DeAnna Korte says.

Arkansas musical duo Trout Fishing in America will close the first Springfest with folk-rock and children’s music.

“[Riverfest has] just gotten too expensive for folks who just want to spend a day in the park,” Korte says. “To spend more than $20 each for a family of four gets expensive.”

April weather is notoriously unpredictable in Arkansas, often associated with thunderstorms and tornadoes as much as it is sunny days. Korte says the event will still be on, rain or shine, and will only be affected by severe weather.

Korte says the decision to separate Riverfest’s daytime activities from the nighttime concerts was made because families usually use Memorial Day weekend to visit the lake or engage in other start-of-summer activities. She says the intent is to remove that barrier that might keep some people from attending Riverfest.

Riverfest is moving to June 3-5. Flowing on the River, the festival’s separately ticketed wine and craft beer event, will kick off the event.

One thing that isn’t going to change about Riverfest is the music. The music festival will still be a combination of top national and international acts, as well as regional and local performers on different stages at Riverfront Park and the Clinton Presidential Center grounds, on June 4-5.

Although Riverfest is expected to still be lower priced than most festivals, it is experiencing the increased fees that other festivals have come across.

“The industry as a whole has changed,” Korte says. “Bands used to make money on CDs and record sales. Now, they’re making their money primarily off live performances.”

No ticket prices have been set, but “Riverfest will still be the best value you will find for a music festival,” Korte says.

There is also a possible change in the closing time since Monday, June 6, will be a regular work day for most people, and they wouldn’t have the next day off like they would for Memorial Day weekend.

“We haven’t set a schedule yet,” Korte says. “The goal is to push it up a tad bit.”

Korte says the event will still feature fireworks. “That’s a Riverfest tradition,” she says.

Market Row will return with food and drink merchants featured during the weekend.

More specific details on Riverfest and Springfest will be announced as they develop.

For more information on the festival, visit riverfestarkansas.com, facebook.com/riverfestarkansas or twitter.com/arkriverfest.

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