If you missed this year’s version of Eden (NC)’s RiverFest, you missed one of the best fall festivals in the area. Let’s break in down in the “Random Thoughts” format…
- Cindy Adams (Eden’s coordinator of Tourism & Special Events) and her crew of staff/volunteers thought of pretty much everything that was needed for this year’s event. The other RiverFests that I’ve attended have gone off without a hitch and this crew seems to build on each one.
- The Friday night / all day Saturday format works great as you have two nights of great entertainment and one day to see everything. Any festival that wraps up by 5PM (looking at you, South Boston) is missing a chance to add to the entertainment value.
- RiverFest is set up right with 2 stages of entertainment at each end of Washington St. The big stage has the bigger acts but there’s always good entertainment going on at the smaller stage too. One other good thing for RiverFest is that they’re established enough to get bigger-name regional bands so that helps fill up the line-up. A small thing that’s really big is the fact that RiverFest puts out lines of haybales in front of the stages and they make perfect seating areas.
- Speaking of the entertainment, there’s music for everybody’s taste. Last year was my first time listening to “Too Much Sylvia” and I immediately put them on my “must see regional bands” list. They didn’t disappoint again this year with their Friday night show. All of the other bands on Stage 1 were great and everything went off without a hitch.
- Speaking of Stage 1, the Madison/Mayodan Jaycees were working their beer garden and it was a welcome refreshing experience to see festival beer prices at a reasonable level. Plenty of festivals have beer prices in the $4-5 range but here, it was $2-3. There are always going to be sticks-in-the-mud that recoil in horror at a family-friendly festival serving beer but that’s ridiculous. You’re in Eden which has a Miller beer brewery. Nobody got out of hand and there was plenty of police presence by the Eden Police Department if anything did happen. In fact, the beer garden was so successful at their reasonable price levels that they had to quickly add additional space to the roped-off area.
- Speaking of beer, the local Miller/Coors plant had a tasting area set-up and that was a good place to try the beers/ales/ciders that you probably have never tried before. You can tell that the employees are proud of the products that they make in the plant and it shows in their hospitality and eagerness to discuss what the products are.
- We’ve covered drinks (and there were plenty non-alcoholic choices there as well), now let’s cover food. There’s two separate food areas with traditional festival food. Everything I tried was good and the prices were what was expected for fall festival food. One thing that I’d like to see is more seating areas for people to eat their meals at (but the ones in place now were mostly occupied by people who weren’t eating).
- People love to see the vendors/craftsmen and RiverFest had that covered well. People were buying things and the vendors were doing pretty good business-wise. One thing I like about RiverFest is that vendors and civic groups are mixed up so there’s something different at each table.
- Believe it or not, there’s actually a river involved at RiverFest. Down at the Leaksville Landing on the Dan River, they have exhibits set up as well. Since it’s a decent size walk to the bridge and no signage to remind me, I forgot to even go there to see what was happening. More signage and an event board would help a lot out for that.
- If you love animals, RiverFest was the place to go see the Purina Incredible Dog Team, Cold Blooded Encounters & the Carolina Raptor Center. Great animal shows with a side dish of education.
All in all, Eden’s RiverFest is one of the best fall festivals in the area. I’m looking forward to the 2013 edition and hope to see you there.