Annual street party kicks off tonight|[4/15/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 15, 2005

Tonight’s the night. Stages are up, bands will be in tune and people will begin filling downtown Vicksburg for the 6 p.m. kickoff to the 18th annual Riverfest.

Director of Main Street Rosalie Theobald said that judging by ticket sales, board members expect this year to be the biggest Riverfest ever.

Alice Hebler, who has been selling tickets at her downtown business Paper Plus since April 6, said pre-ticket sales are 10 times what they have been in the past. Tickets were also on sale at Toot’s Grocery, Trustmark bank downtown and Vicksburg Factory Outlets.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am

“Dierks Bentley is going to draw the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” she said.

It’s not just the headline country star scheduled to perform Saturday that will draw the crowd in large numbers, Theobald said. The local music and the weather, which is expected to be partly cloudy in the lower 50s, will bring in a sizable crowd, she added.

“It’s going to a beautiful night. I think people will come down Friday night. They’ll be ready for the party.”

Entertainment will fill three stages, including the new Center Stage at Riverstage Plaza, which will feature more local bands. Board members hope the new stage addition will provide a family-friendly area, Riverfest vice president Jerry Boland said.

“Beer vendors will be North and South of the stage. We’ve had complaints in the past about people having to walk past the beer vendors,” he said. “We’ve set it up where family and kids can come in and not have to pass it.”

Beer tickets will stop being sold at 11 p.m., while beer sales will stop at 11:30 p.m. Food booths will be open until midnight.

Thundercreek will begin playing at the Center Stage at 8 p.m., followed by Deadly 7th and Lucille and the Delta Tornadoes.

Riverfest’s second annual Riverfest Idol, hosted by former Miss Vicksburg Melanie Sanders, will kickoff entertainment at 6:30 at the South Stage, Washington and South streets, followed by The Chill and Vickie Baker.

The North Stage at China and Washington streets will get entertainment started at 6:45 p.m. with Riverwind, Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monsters and the Harmon Drew Band.

Five entrances will be set up along Washington Street with $10 tickets available at each gate. The gates will be at South, Crawford and Walnut streets, Clay, China at Walnut and next to Cinnamon Tree for people from the south parking garage.

With the completion of Walnut Towers parking garage, people attending the festival should have no trouble finding space to park, Boland said. The festivities will run along Washington Street from Veto to Grove streets, Theobald said.

Downtown streets from Veto to Grove streets and China to Mulberry will be blocked off starting at 5 p.m. today.

A permanent bathroom is available at Riverstage Plaza, along with “Port-o-Palaces” that will be provided by Sheffield Rentals at the plaza. More bathrooms will be in the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau parking lot.

Downtown retail merchants will not be open during tonight’s festival hours, but restaurants and bars will remain open to the public, Theobald said, in addition to food vendors along Washington.

Riverfest continues Saturday with an arts and crafts festival between Jackson and China streets, more live music, children’s activities, a softball tournament, kayak race and the 25th Annual Alcorn State University Jazz Festival. The daily events are free, and gates will open at 6 for Saturday night entertainment.