The River Region's Wave of the Future!
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An estimated 4,000-5,000 people braved Saturday’s heat and humidity to attend Wetumpka’s inaugural River and Blues Music and Art Festival. The event featured music, arts and crafts, children’s activities, concessions and more – all arrayed on and near the city’s riverwalk from the civic center to Gold Star Park. A barbecue cookoff and tasting fundraiser were held in conjunction with the main attraction.
“We were very pleasantly surprised that so many people came,” said Thad Hankins, a member of the four-person organizing committee. “I think they were drawn by the uniqueness of the event and the music.
“We had heard from a lot of people that they would be there, but you never know with a free event – especially when it’s the first time. By and large we were thrilled with the attendance; and with the positive comments and even suggestions of what people would like to see in the future.”
Music on two stages provided choices for listeners throughout most of the afternoon and evening. Some attendees came early and stayed until the last music notes died away. Others dropped in for a few hours. The crowd was at its height after the sun set.
“The music was great,” said Travis Tapley. “I really enjoyed it all, and I would love to see it back every year. Wetumpka needs this kind of event. It was really a wonderful time.”
“I had an awesome time, but thought I would melt,” said Sherry Woodall. “Maybe it would be better hosting it in spring or fall when Alabama weather is much nicer. Kudos to Thad and everyone else involved with this wonderful event.”
Many others were equally complimentary.
“I had a fantastic time with the entire family,” said Judy Gillett. “The best part was the local talent, music, arts and crafts. This needs to be an annual event.”
David Evans said he was on site working throughout the festival.
“It was a well-planned event by all those involved,” he said. “We didn’t have any critical situations, the crowd was pleasant, the music was fantastic, the children’s entertainment was excellent, there was a great variety of vendors and traffic was controlled well.”
“I loved it all, especially the fact we could bring coolers,” said Amy Woodall. “At most events held around the River Region you cannot and it gets expensive with four people. I also loved the free kid zone.”
Hankins said organizing committee members were pleased with the coordination and cooperation provided by volunteers and city employees, in particular the public works department.
“We were absolutely thrilled with how smoothly everything went,” he said. “Of course there were a few hiccups, but overall it was great.”
One element beyond human influence also contributed to the event’s success.
“Some things like the weather are out of your control, but it cooperated,” Hankins said. “It was a lot of fun, and everything came together perfectly.”
The positive response from attendees is a spur for committee members to forge ahead with plans for next year. Hankins, along with fellow organizers Jessie Barksdale, Tiffany Robinson and Pat Whatley, were scheduled to meet Tuesday evening for a festival follow-up.
“We’ll discuss Saturday’s event and start talking about next year,” he said. “I thought the music and arts went well, but there’s always room for improvement. We’re all just really excited about how the whole event went.”
Information about future festivals will be posted regularly at www.riverandblues.net and on the Wetumpka’s River and Blues Music and Art Festival Facebook page.
“I think the bar’s been set awfully high for next year,” said Hankins.
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