RiverFest committee building a strong festival


Jenny and Charles Craft have put together a team that rocks.

Sorry to use the generation X slang, but this festival, which just put a wrap around the second year Sunday night, had great music, well-timed events and programming, good security, and helped several groups, including the Great River Honor Flight program and the Fort Madison Police Reserves, make some much needed cash.


I’ve gotten to know the Crafts from this year’s news articles and have found them both to be people whose top priority is making sure everyone is having a good time. I spoke with Jenny and Charles on several occasions about the event and we tried to keep the festival in our readers’ minds as the event drew closer. But it’s the looks on their faces that told the story. Speaking with Charles Thursday night and watching his face light up when I asked him how turnout compared to the previous year.

Craft said it was 20x bigger than the inaugural year of the event. He had a farmer’s smile on his face as though he was looking out over a fertile field as people filed in to see Captain Geech in the Entertainment tent. “I couldn’t be happier with this turnout,” he said. But something tells me he will be happier next year.

Jenny walked around speaking with guests Saturday night between country artist Buddy Jewell and Fort Madison native Shawn Moss, who, (if you didn’t get a chance to hear him, you missed something), spoke for real when he told me it was unfortunate Garth Brooks was Garth Brooks first, because this guy is Garth Brooks.

Walking the grounds, and I’m not exaggerating here, I rarely went 20 minutes without seeing Rusty Andrews milling about making sure his priorities were being monitored.

I spoke with a lot of parents, aunts and uncles about the event and they all indicated they were happy that it was brought back this year and indicated they would be returning as long as the town kept having it.

Bob Smith, a former Fort Madison resident, said he loved coming to the event because it captured small town American with a big venue feel and he would continue to come down to the event, because he loved the “beer tent” mentality mixed in with bigger city acts.

Plans are already underway for the 2018 event and although nothing is set in stone, Craft and Co. are kicking around lots of marketing ideas such as a national rock band, pickleball tournaments, and dragon boat racing. They even had one of the boats in the entertainment venue this year. If you haven’t ever competed in dragon-boat racing, I would encourage you to start working out now. That’ll work the shoulders but it’s a helluva lot of fun.

Doug and Shanna Krogmeier put on the RiverFest Games and had people playing intense sand volleyball, throwing bags in holes, and running all over the Riverfront area.

The committee is genuinely trying to find something for everyone and is getting pretty close to hitting the nail on the head. Thanks folks for a job well done…again.

About Chuck Vandenberg 5071 Articles
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