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30th annual Riverfest under way in downtown Vicksburg

The setting sun cast a warm light as the crowds began making their way through the gates with folding chairs and jackets and headed for the stage at the intersection of South and Washington streets.

The 30th Riverfest was slowly getting underway as the sounds of “The Chill” echoed up Washington Street to attract the crowd south.

“You couldn’t ask for a better night,” Riverfest Committee president Christy Pecanty said. “The crowd is beginning to build.”

The good weather was a blessing the last two Riverfests didn’t have. In 2016, weekend rains marred the event.

“The year before, the rain stopped before the bands started playing, but it turned cold and the people didn’t come,” Pecanty said.

This year’s version of Riverfest takes up less of Washington Street than in previous years, and features only one stage instead of two in previous years.

“We wanted to do something different this year so we went back to the original size of Riverfest when it began 30 years ago,” Pecanty said. “We’re funneling everyone to one stage. Having two stages in the past was frustrating. People would be going to one stage to hear one band, and they would be disappointed, because they wanted to also see another band on the other stage.

“This year, everyone will be on one stage,” she said.

She said the event will be expanded up Washington Street Saturday morning to allow the Vicksburg Cruisers to show their classic cars. Admission to the event during the day is free.

Another change was the decision to sell Riverfest tickets through the online service PayPal.

“We are getting a good response on PayPal,” Pecanty said. “We have a list of everyone who bought a ticket on PayPal. All they have to do when they get to the gate is show their receipt on their phone and we’ll check them off the list.”

As the sun began setting over the levee on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi, the crowd continued to arrive. Some of them didn’t have far to go.

Residents of the many apartments in the downtown area walked along Washington wearing tags saying “resident” to allow them access to the event.

“We saw a note about it the other day, and yesterday we saw something in the newspaper,” said Margie Friedla, who with her husband, Harvey, live at the Lofts apartments in the First National Building.

“This is our first time here for this. I’m enjoying it; we love it.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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