By Donna Thornton/News Editor
While 2013 Riverfest will bring in the big acts from well out of town, it also will give a hometown feel, with local performers and local merchants bringing their talents and trade to the banks of the Coosa May 31 and June 1.
Alabama Entertainers’ “Harmonics” have been added to the list of Riverfest performers. The quartet, made up of Xana and Anna Solomonik, Taylor Jackson and Cassidy King, will perform the national anthem and the song “Boondocks,” which has won them honors at competitions across the southeast.
Alabama Entertainers Director Deanna Duke said the girls will open performances June 1.
RiverfestDuke said the girls also perform as solo artists, in Alabama Entertainers larger performance group. Another local performer, Southside’s Kate Falcon also takes the stage June 1, followed by the Jeremy Jackson Band, Corey Smith and headliner Kenny Rogers.
For the first night of Riverfest, St. Paul and the Broken Bones will lead off the night’s entertainment, followed by the Reluctant Saints and 1980s rock greats Styx.
In addition to showcasing some outstanding local talent, Riverfest 2013 brings several local vendors to be a part of the festival – something Chamber President Heather New would like to see grow in years to come.
“We hope to grow local participation each year, and eventually, when folks visit Riverfest, they (will) get a true “sample” of what Gadsden and Etowah County has to offer in restaurants and retailers,” New said.
This push to incorporate as much local participation as possible is reflective of The Chamber’s mission and commitment to their members, New explained.
A few of the local retailers that have already committed include Pretty Plus Clothing, Local Joe’s Trading Post, Flowers By Rita Custom Framing and Back Forty Beer Company. New said it is not too late for local vendors to be included this year. Chamber members receive a discount. Interested businesses can call 256-543-3472 for more information.
In keeping with keeping things local, Back Forty’s Truck Stop Honey will be available in the beer garden, dubbed the Riverfest Pub, along with an even wider variety of Supreme Beverage products. Hours for the beer garden have been extended to match festival hours, as well.
‘We were grateful to see that the public that requested this amenity treated it responsibly and there were no negative issues within the pub last year,” New said.
The pub will offer local live music June 1 starting at 11 a.m. Performers will include Trading Faces, The Shane Givens Band and Wes Barnes.
Music will carry through the opening of the main stage, which will be about 4:30.
‘We have tried to incorporate the significant local talent into the festival and hope to make that a standard,” New said. “We have a wealth of amazing musicians in our area, and it would be an honor for the festival to possibly be a springboard for their careers.
“We saw last year’s country night opening act Drake White hit the charts this year and we hope that his exposure at Riverfest helped introduce him to even more of his hometown,” New added. White, who lives in Nashville, is from Hokes Bluff. He performed May 11 at Glencoe’s Celebration in the Park.
In other developments, New said ticket buyers can now make their purchases online through The Chamber’s website www.gadsdenriverfest.com. It’s the first year online sales have been available, and if all works well New said she expects to operate and online box office next year.
Tickets are available now at all vendor locals as well as at The Chamber office, or people may purchase a “print at home” ticket that can be scanned at the gate.
This new service, a partnership with Birmingham-based TicketBiscuit.com, will greatly enhance customer service by allowing credit card and debit card sales from any Internet device, as well as at the gate, New explained. Single day passes only will he available for purchase at the gate, but weekend passes can be purchased through Friday online.
New reminded that festivalgoers should bring lawn chairs or blankets. Lawn chairs will be allowed in the beer garden, but no coolers are allowed. New said law enforcement will be present at all gates and anyone attempting to enter the festival intoxicated will risk not only ejection from the festival, but also whatever response deemed necessary by the gate officer.
“We were pleased to see how the addition of law enforcement as security last year helped ensure the festival reminds family friendly,” New said. “They did a phenomenal job ensuring the safety and good time of all who attended.”
New said this year the children’s area will include significantly more inflatables and rides and will be operated by trained and certified staff of the rental company to ensure the utmost of safety for the children. There will be a ticket booth within the
children’s area for these rides. Tickets will be inexpensive and all park equipment will remain free for use.