In its 35th year, many things remain the same at Riverbend, the food, the music, the stages and the heat. But there's one notable difference this year due to a move by the Tennessee General Assembly, last year, if you have a permit, you can carry a firearm. We found not many were aware and so far, police don't see a problem.
Robby Layne of Whitwell says, "I like it I mean if you have a permit you should be able to bring your gun anywhere you want to." That is the case at this year's Riverbend music festival under a 2015 law allowing permit holders to carry guns in state and local parks. State regulations supersede signs at the gate which list firearms along with backpacks, laser pointers, pets and skateboards... verboten. Many in attendance hadn't heard and are they worried, especially with all of the alcohol being consumed?
Robby Layne, "I'm more worried about the gangs in the area and people being able to protect themselves with the gangs around and stuff. If more people have the guns to be able to protect them from the gangs I believe that's better than getting shot of the street."
To be clear, it's still illegal to possess a firearm while under the influence.
Austin Webster of Chattanooga, "We had to sign an oath if you will kind of a set of rules when you get the carry permit one being that you cannot consume alcohol while he have a gun on you."
If the unthinkable should happen, says Austin Webster, people will be protected whether they agree with the policy or not.
Austin Webster, "And they can't argue against their life being safe because of some lawful person was carrying a weapon."
But, Tina Clark doesn't like it and says it'll make her be even more aware.
Tina Clark, mother, "Well, as a mother it's kind of scary. So, I mean, you know, I don't think it's a really good idea considering there's a lot of families here and Chattanooga it is getting worse as far as their violence."
Police are ready to protect.
"I don't think we'll have any issues with it," Sgt. Austin Garrett with Chattanooga Police said. "We have plans in place to address it, protocol to deal with it. I don't think it's going to be an issue. This is just kind of something new that people aren't used to so it's kinda presented itself in that manner."
The hope is Riverbend music will unite what heat or alcohol may try to divide.
TIna Clark, "Hopefully, everyone will get along."
Again, only those with permits can carry firearms and you cannot be under the influence.