Favorite

Riverfest gets a bad rap 

Thanks to a Democrat-Gazette columnist.

0218riverfest-1.gif

Riverfest is peeking out over the horizon. Over the last couple of weeks, we've reported on the Rock Candy blog that the annual Memorial Day festival will effectively abandon North Little Rock as a primary staging ground for entertainment, and the first slate of performers announced (Gary Allan, Little River Band, Robert Cray and The Steve Miller Band).

On Monday, we finally heard from Democrat-Gazette columnist Linda Caillouet, who writes the “Paper Trails” column on the front page of the Arkansas section, where she covers a lot of the same sort of topics we do on Rock Candy, but with less frequency and more focus on local Ellen DeGeneres look-alikes and the Duggars. Every year Caillouet seems to find new ways to write crotchety, uninformed pieces on Riverfest.

Monday, she bemoaned the rising cost of the festival amidst the “continuing economic crisis,” and noted that in the early 1990s Riverfest only cost $1 and, for its first 14 years, cost nothing. Then, she added, “And in the personal opinion of this columnist, who moved to Little Rock in 1991 and has regularly attended Riverfest ever since, the quality of musical acts steadily improved during the mid to late-1990s but has since been on a downward slide with less up-and-coming or crowd-drawing, red-hot-right now musical acts.”

First, to be clear what we're talking about, this year, tickets to the three-day festival, which usually features at least a dozen name headliners, cost $15 in advance or $30 at the gate. That's a $2.50 increase in advance tickets and a $5 increase for those at the gate from last year. Bloodsuckers!

I asked Riverfest director DeAnna Korte for a response. Here's what she said in an e-mail:

“This isn't the early '90s. What did gas, milk and bread cost in the early '90s? Riverfest's expenses rise along with everything else. If the quality has gone down since then, why does attendance increase each year? If Linda was a ‘reporter,' she would do her research on the value of our event compared to others in the region and across the country. Compare our pricing to one day at the zoo or a two-hour movie.”

Caillouet may've left her flank open with the “crowd-drawing” line, but the notion that Riverfest isn't getting enough “red-hot-right now” acts is a popular one. It's also wholly uninformed.

Perhaps most importantly, Riverfest will always be limited by its music budget, which is somewhere in the range of $650,000. When, according to Korte, Dave Matthews gets half a million for festival dates and Kings of Leon wants $350,000, there wouldn't be much left to spread among three days and three stages. Too, believe it or not, a lot of bands don't want come to Arkansas to play 45 minutes in the sweltering heat on Memorial Day Weekend. Caillouet's “up-and-coming” acts might be an exception, but if Riverfest is to even approach breaking even, it needs to pack in crowds and sell concessions. And with a limited number of headliner spots, slotting an up-and-comer in one is a pretty big gamble.

Also, nostalgia acts aren't just a part of Riverfest's formula, they're a part of most every summer festival like Riverfest. This year's headliners for JazzFest in New Orleans — long one of the most respected — include Simon & Garfunkel, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Lionel Richie, Anita Baker, The Neville Brothers and the Allman Brothers Band. Record attendance numbers in recent years — around 250,000 in 2008 and 2009 — tell the real story: Names like Willie Nelson and Bobby Brown and The B-52s pack in the crowds at Riverfest.

Also, it's simply not true that the festival doesn't bring in contemporary acts. In recent years, it's included names like 3 Doors Down, Flyleaf, Gym Class Heroes, Hinder, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, One Republic, Pat Green, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Robert Randolph and the Family Band.

And you can't get much more up-and-coming than the local acts that play on mainstages in the early hours and throughout the festival at the Arkansas Tent (which, in full disclosure, we sponsor). If this year's local lineup matches that of the last several years, you can survey Arkansas's scene in all its diversity and talent for $15. Even in the “continuing economic crisis,” that's a hell of a deal.


Chime in on the rollicking thread going on Rock Candy on Riverfest.

Favorite

Speaking of Linda Caillouet Is Wrong

  • Paper Trails' stupid war on Riverfest

    February 15, 2010
    With Riverfest peeking out over the horizon, look out for months of ill-informed, crotchety bitching from Democrat-Gazette columnist Linda Caillouet leading up to the festival. /more/
  • Half-price Riverfest tickets now on-sale

    April 6, 2009
    At participating Affiliated Foods and Big Red Stores, including Cranford's Fresh, City Market and Harvest Foods. /more/
  • Beware of DoG

    December 8, 2005
    Back when I was a kid, my grandmother had a succession of tiny dogs — ugly, ill-tempered things given to wheezing and shivering — more rat than canine. They were all, as a rule, named “Diddibiteya” (as in: “What’s his name?” “Why, ‘Diddibiteya?’), which m /more/
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in A&E Feature

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Belk bowling, b-ball

    • Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Resurrection, reflection

    • http://hairtransplantncr.com/ hair transplant in delhi hair transplant ncr hair transplant cost hair transplant cost in…

    • on December 8, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation