COMING BACK: A new Riverfest, under new private operators.
A group calling itself the RiverFest Organization
has scheduled a news conference Monday at the First Security Amphitheatre for the announcement of rebirth
of a Riverfest music festival
on the river Memorial Day weekend.
Riverfest called it quits in 2017 after 40 years of operation by a nonprofit organization, pressed by the financial realities of rising costs.
Into the breach steps Universal Fairs of Memphis,
whose CEO Mark Lovel
l says the organization runs fairs, festivals and trade shows around the country, including fairs in Memphis and the Georgia State Fair.
Lovell tells me by telephone from his Memphis office that the group plans a three-day music festival, plus a "family zone," May 25-27, Friday through Sunday. He said he's already lined up some major sponsors, including Mid South Ford Dealers, and has worked out use
of Riverfront Park with the city. He said the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau
also was cooperating in planning and would participate in Monday's news conference.
It's too soon, Lovell said, to predict the musical acts.
To my question of how he plans to succeed where the nonprofit Riverfest organization said it could not, he responded: "We're just good at what we do."
He said his company had "rescued" other faltering events.
He said Riverfest would have two main stages, the amphitheater and a stage in the Clinton Library park.
He said he expected his phone to be "ringing off the wall" next week after the formal announcement.
I haven't gotten return calls from the city to confirm arrangements they have made to renew the event. LRCVB sent notice of Monday's press announcement.
UPDATE: John Eckart, the city parks director indicates his department isn't expected to play a role as in years past. He said the event isn't extended to extend west from the amphitheater, which is managed by the visitors
bureau. The Clinton park land
on which another stage is planned is managed by the Clinton Foundation, though it is city land leased to the foundation.