Riverfest setting up for weekend party

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 15, 2004

[4/15/04]Crews will begin today setting the stage literally for a weekend of downtown events to include live music, a children’s carnival, a jazz festival and an arts and crafts show.

Riverfest 2004 Entertainment Chairman Eddie Arnold said workers would begin setting up the South Stage at Crawford and Washington streets this afternoon. When that is completed, the North Stage, at China and Washington streets will be constructed.

Preparation will be down to the wire as organizers ready for the weekend.

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“You’ll probably see about 15 of us running up and down Washington Street,” Arnold said.

Gates for Riverfest 2004 will open at 6 p.m. Friday, and the new Riverfest Idol Show begins at 6:30.

“We are really excited about it this year,” Arnold said. “The community has to support Riverfest, more this year than ever before.

“We’ve pulled everything in one spot, and we need the community’s support so we can continue to be here.”

The two-day fair was moved to the Vicksburg Convention Center last year due to construction along the street. Attendance was down about 30 percent in 2003. A reported 17,000 attended in 2002.

With newly bricked streets, new lighting and some new stores, Washington Street is set to welcome back the festival.

“We are thrilled and delighted,” said Rosalie Theobald, executive director of the city’s Main Street Program. “Washington Street is where it was meant to be.”

Progress elsewhere in the city is causing another change for downtown events.

Maintenance work at the Old Courthouse Museum Eva Davis Memorial is one reason the Vicksburg Arts and Crafts Show will be on Washington Street between Grove and Main streets this year.

This is the first time in the market’s 36-year history that it has not been on the grounds surrounding the courthouse, said Cathleen Graham, who is co-directing the show with her husband, Barry Graham.

Another reason for the move, Cathleen Graham said, was to put Riverfest and the arts and crafts show together.

More than 150 vendors will line Washington Street to sell original artwork, woodwork, iron and metal work, photography, pottery and jewelry.

Artwork at the show will be judged by a local artist.

The fair is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 Saturday, and admission is free.

Also slated for Saturday is Alcorn State University’s Jazz Festival. In its 24th year, the festival will feature workshops and performances by high school and university jazz bands from across the state. Admission to the jazz festival is free.

And though forecasts from the National Weather Service are calling for clear skies throughout the weekend and temperatures in the mid-80s Saturday, a backup plan is in place, Arnold said.

A local radio station, River 101, which is 101.3 on the FM dial, will broadcast an announcement if the festival must be canceled, Arnold said.

“The stages are covered, and if there is a light rain or a drizzle, the show will go on,” he said. “If it’s a hard, driving rain, we’ll wait it out.”

Tickets are nonrefundable if the show is canceled.

Festival-goers are encouraged to park in Horizon Casino’s parking garages.