Riverfest announced their headliners this week. They also announced and solidified a few changes. Some of the changes are great, others are leaving fans a little disappointed with the festival.
One major change is that is Riverfest will no longer be held on Memorial Day weekend. This year, Riverfest is June 3 - 5, leaving Memorial Day free for other activities. Fans seem to be mixed on this change. Some of them are glad Memorial Day will be open for picnics and BBQs, others look forward to enjoying Riverfest on Memorial Day weekend.
The organizers of Riverfest are holding a smaller, free family festival on April 2 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Springfest is aimed at families with kids. Springfest will have fun, kid friendly activities and entertainment. They will have the dock jumping dogs and Trout Fishing in America will perform. Springfest will also have food trucks and bounce houses and many of the favorite family fun things you're used to seeing at Riverfest. Think about it as the kid's stage at Riverfest.
The downside is that these family activities will be removed from the Riverfest lineup. Riverfest organizers felt they were pricing families out of Riverfest because ticket prices continue to rise with the cost of entertainment. Ticket prices last year were $40 for the weekend. This year, advance tickets will be $43.50, which doesn't include re-entry on the same day.
Not including reentry has upset a lot of people. This new rule, supposedly for event security reasons, means once you come into the festival on a day, you cannot leave to go get a bite to eat or go home and come back.
Preventing re-entry will likely drive business at downtown restaurants down. I often go to Riverfest for a bit, and then walk to a River Market restaurant to grab a bite before seeing another show. The reason? Local restaurants are air conditioned. Arkansas in June all day outside in usually unbearable. I can't imagine the elderly or people with health conditions really enjoying this new rule. This is also a problem for families with small kids.
I've never been to a major music festival (and I've been to many) that would not allow reentry with a badge or pass. Since security in many public venues is being increased, maybe we'll see this more often. I do think attendance for earlier activities will be down.
I also don't think there will be a lot of kids at Riverfest this year. It's not very family friendly anymore with the no re-entry rule combined with the family events being moved to Springfest. Less kids could either be positive or negative, depending on who you are.
If you have enough money, apparently you are not a security risk. For $500, you can get two VIP Riverfest passes. The VIP passes include unlimited reentry for two people, access to the VIP pavilions for the weekend, complimentary Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coca-Cola and wine products throughout the weekend, complimentary dinner each evening, reserved seating in the Amphitheater, one print/poster of the Riverfest 2016 Festival artwork created by festival artist.
Negatives aside, even for one concert, the $45 ticket price isn't bad. Riverfest is pretty reasonably priced entertainment. The concert lineup for 2016 features headliners Chris Stapleton, The Flaming Lips, Goo Goo Dolls and Cole Swindell. Like previous years, there's a little something for everyone.
Also performing on one of Riverfest's many stages (they haven't announced the schedule) are: Kelsea Bellerini, X Ambassadors, Juicy J, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Brothers Osborne, Barrett Baber, Judah & the Lion, ZZ Ward, Givers, The Sheepdogs, Andy Frasco & the U.N., New Breed Brass Band and Knox Hamilton.
That's a good amount of entertainment for $45. Of course, you can't see them all, but you can still stage hop, even if you can't re-enter.
The festival will still have the festival foods and arts and crafts tables that Riverfest has always had. They will still be using RiverMoney for concessions. It's basically the same as previous years, with the family stage activities being moved to a separate, free weekend.
You can order your tickets online today. You should pre-order, because tickets will be more at the gate. Day of ticket prices have not been announced.