New Albany, MS- Coming up on its 20th year, the Tallahatchie Riverfest has brought a number of well-known national acts to perform in New Albany and this year will bring another.
Country Music royalty, Ricky Skaggs, along with his Kentucky Thunder bluegrass band, will be headlining the Tallahatchie Riverfest on Saturday, October 8 of this year. Organizers say they chose Skaggs because of both his appeal to fans of traditional country music as well bluegrass and other touring genres.
“Country music has a very broad appeal in North Mississippi,” says Sean Johnson, New Albany’s Director of Tourism, who is responsible for producing the festival. “Anyone who’s followed Riverfest for any number of years can attest that country acts bring the largest crowds.”
Since the purpose of the festival is to bring folks to town to eat, shop and spend the night (the city of New Albany collects a 2% tax on all restaurant meals and hotel stays), Johnson says it makes sense to bring in acts with large appeal.
“Little Big Town, John Anderson, Marty Stuart, Eric Church have been very successful in the past. When we have tried bringing in different acts, maybe those less heard of or from the non-country world, they just don’t seem to get the larger crowds, even though they may be top-notch in terms of performance. No matter how good an act is, it’s surprisingly difficult to get people to come out and see someone they’ve never heard of…and that’s a shame because folks can miss out on some great music because they won’t make it out to something new…there was a time when everyone who’s now a star was an unknown.”
In addition to bringing back the classic country theme this year to attract more visitors, the date of the festival has been changed so as not to compete with Ole Miss football. This year Ole Miss has a back to back home schedule that includes Alabama, Georgia and Memphis State in late September. Traditionally, the festival has been held on the last weekend of September to coincide with William Faulkner’s September 25th birthday, but organizers feel that the draw of home games in nearby Oxford would be too much competition.
“Hopefully, folks will be glad for the break from football and we’re going to encourage them to head over to New Albany for the weekend for some down time,” says Johnson.
This year’s festival will be held at and around the new stage and market area being built at Park Along the River. Included in the festivities will be an arts market, kids’ activities, music throughout the day, and possibly a carnival midway next door on the farmer’s market area. Talks are ongoing with Main Street to bring back the Bankhead Street Market from 2014 as well as with downtown restaurants on the idea of working together to host live entertainment at restaurants on the Friday night prior to the festival.
For more information about the festival, those interested are encouraged to “like” the festival’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/newalbanyriverfest. There is a Tallahatchie Riverfest website at www.tallahatchieriverfest.com, but it will not go live until July.