The summertime gods have smiled upon us.
RiverFest, once The Natural State’s largest music and arts festival, is back after shutting down last summer following its 40th anniversary. The fest will return to Riverfront Park and to its original time slot of Memorial Day Weekend on May 25-27.
The organization behind the new RiverFest is Universal Fairs, a group out of Memphis that develops events across the country, including festivals in California, Arizona and its home state of Tennessee.
"We were really interested in the tradition of RiverFest. It's definitely a social anchor in the spring, so it was very enticing for us to become involved," says Jack Daniels of Universal Fairs. "We have an opportunity to create an event the community can embrace again."
Festivalgoers will find all the familiar makings of the event they know — two main stages with nationally known headliners and local acts, vendors, family activities, fair food — with a notable boost to the carnival area, which will now include about 25 rides.
According to Daniels, the organization has done its research on RiverFest, reviewing the positive and negative aspects of past events. Their plan is to better navigate past missteps and mend relationships with downtown Little Rock businesses, in part by moving entrance gates closer to the river and avoiding a shutdown of President Clinton Ave.
"It's very rare to find a city that is such an advocate for an event," Daniels says, noting the help they received from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau in the planning process. "In Arkansas, everybody comes out to this event, all ages and all walks of life."
RiverFest will announce its 2018 musical lineup the first weekend in April, and will offer $30 weekend passes on sale through the month of March.