It's the same thing every year. As soon as the week of Riverbend ends, I tell myself I'm never going back.

At some point during the eight days of the festival, I get completely fed up with the large crowds, oppressive heat and the long walk back to the car at the end of the night. I tell myself I'm never going back.. but I know it's a lie.

Each and every summer, I'm right back there, walking through the gate with a wild grin on my face. I, like countless other Chattanoogans, get excited about Riverbend.

When I'm there, I can't help but appreciate the mouth-watering food, powerful live music and invisible buzz in the air. Even though no one can see it, everyone can feel it. Whether you're a first-time Riverbend-goer or a Riverbend veteran like me, here is a guide to surviving an unforgettable week of music and entertainment.

Things you'll need:

  • Sunscreen - If you plan on arriving at Riverbend while it's still daylight, sunscreen is a must-have. It's an open event, without many shady areas. I might even suggest bringing an umbrella for shade.
  • Sunglasses - This one is pretty self-explanatory. It will be bright outside, people! Bring a case to keep them safe when it gets dark.
  • Closed-toed shoes - I learned this one the hard way. Riverbend is a very crowded event, and there will probably be a few times you get stuck in a "traffic jam" of people trying to get to your destination. You wouldn't want anyone to step on your toes. It hurts!
  • Digital Camera - Although video cameras aren't allowed at Riverbend, cameras that take still photos are. You might want to commemorate the event by taking pictures of musical artists, friends and family.
  • Cell Phone - With so many people inside the gates, finding your friends and family can be like finding a needle in a haystack. You'll need a cell phone to communicate with them and figure out where to meet up.
  • Cash - Everything at Riverbend (food and beverages) is purchased using Riverbend tokens, and you need cash to purchase those tokens. No debit cards! However, if a debit card is all you have, there will be ATMs stationed throughout the festival where you can get cash.
  • Blankets or Chairs - When you want to settle down and watch a show, you might want something comfortable to sit on.

Most importantly, don't forget to bring your smile and a positive attitude, ‘cause you're in for a great time!