Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Riverbend Festival - Chattanooga

Every June, Chattanooga holds the Riverbend Festival, nine days of fun and music. For $28, you get a pin that gets one person (kids free) into all nine nights. You can take your chairs and blankets, but, of course, have to purchase your drinks and food there. It's probably not a lot different than dozens of summer musical festivals across the country, except that it's located on the Tennessee River, and has five simultaneous stages of music.

Each evening, beginning about 5pm, there are musical groups set up on the different stages all along the riverwalk area next to the Tennessee River, with each night's headlining group on the Coco-Cola Stage at 9pm. They try to represent all genres of music - rock and roll, country, blues, zydaco, jazz, folk, even a Faith and Family Night. One year we had Vince Gill as a headliner, and another Trisha Yearwood. This year the headliners were Willie Nelson (who sorely disappointed), Little Richard (David said he also didn't deliver), Montgomery Gentry (really rocked), Train, Three Dog Night, B-52s, Steve Curtis Chapman, and the Commodores. And dozens of other groups on the various other stages.

Regardless of who we see, and whether we go every night or only a few, it's worth every penny. You make your way thru the throngs of people to the stages or the grassy areas, set up your chair or blanket for the evening, and either sit and people watch or walk around. The stars come out, a cool breeze comes off the river (or it's hotter than hell), the boats that have come to watch from the water are floating near shore. The whole package is wonderful. Most of us only see the headliners on the big screen, but that's ok, because the real headliner is the river itself, and the bridges and horizon.
Conner and Pawpaw. I love this picture. What is it about watching people you love, especially of different generations, walking from behind? It's a long walk (at least to me and the kids!), so it's one foot in front of the other ...

We walk by this historical building on our way from parking to the festival grounds. We actually walk by many photo-worthy views, but when you're with more than one other person, all of whom walk faster than you, and you don't know what streets to go down, you need to just keep walking!

This is my daughter, Melody, and three year old Conner. The kids really enjoy going to Riverbend, though all the legs can be a little intimidating. You want to carry them or hold tight to their hand.

These are sand sculpters of the headlining acts, which were fascinating, especially to the kids. The also had an area where he kids could play in the sand.

I didn't go to the last night this year, so have no photos of the fireworks finale, but last year it was like something I'd never seen. I was so choked up, near tears. They time it to a montage of the music that was played all week, and it just takes your breath away. Just thinking about it now makes me say that next year I won't miss it, no matter how tired my legs are from walking up and down those hills to get to and from our car!

If you're in the area the first week of June next year, you'll have to join us at Chattanooga's Riverbend Festival. I think this particular festival is so special because of the variety of music over the nine day period, and especially the the coming together of people from all walks of life, very young to very old, to share the common factor of music in a family atmosphere. Beer is served, and there are always those who overdo it, but all in all it's about quality time with family and friends, neighbors and strangers. I don't think you'll find anything to beat it these days for $28!

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