Party is over at Riverbend, cleanup underway
The party on the riverfront is over, but the work is not. Just like with any other good party, the not so fun part is just beginning.
The eight-day Riverbend Festival capped off the annual fireworks show on the river Saturday night. However, those sounds have been traded in for the sounds of street sweepers and a lot of hard-working people cleaning up. In fact, the process started before the show even ended.
"We started taking that down when the Coke Stage was still performing on the last night," Chip Baker, of Friends of the Festival, said.
However, the real mess is all the trash, volunteers estimate they pick up anywhere between 20 to 25 tons of garbage during the course of the entire festival. A lot to pick up, but by some measures, it's a good sign that concessions were busy.
"We call it 'Tennessee Valley's family reunion.' It's about bringing our community together and having a great value for the concerts," Baker said.
About 350,000 people attended the nine-day festival and brought in about $30 million to the local economy. However, the 37th festival had its challenges, this year, water levels from the river flooded the main staging area. But the big talker this year was Luke Combs canceling his performance on the third night.
"You know the first thing we always do is, what worked and what didn't work. We do an action report to determine where things went smooth maybe where we could've done better," Baker said.
This year, organizers also added more security, wanding each person through the gates and banning guns from the festival. Next year, you'll notice some changes as the Edwin Hotel is opening, and the stage on their end will look totally different.
"We gotta figure out how do we do that and that to me is exciting when you have a partner like that wants to be a part of the festival," he said.
It's hard to believe, but Friends of the Festival has already started planning for next year's festival. Soon the Coke Stage will sail away until next year.
Roads downtown re-opened Monday afternoon. Crews will spend the next couple of days making sure everything is returned back to normal.