Riverfest 2022 to go a little bit country


Local bands to be a bigger part of this year’s festival


FORT MADISON – Riverfest organizer Charles Craft is taking Riverfest 2022 just a little bit country.

This year’s reveal party is just seven weeks away and Craft said this year’s festival will look a little different than years past.

The seventh year of the Fort Madison riverfront music and carnival will have some new additions and some changes based on suggestions from fans. One of those is a day of national country acts.

“There will be a day that’s country this year. That’s coming from suggestions and the reality that a full four-day rock festival wasn’t going to work in southeast Iowa,” Craft said.

“The population base just didn’t support four straight days of rock, so we’ve diversified a bit. We’re going bigger this year, we’re just bringing in a day of national country acts, which is what fans were telling us.”

But Craft has for the past seven years gone after national musical acts that are on current national charts and that won’t change. He said the committee has finalized the lineup and every day will feature current national trending musical acts.

The annual announcement party will be Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Rail Yard, formerly Kinnick South.

The event will again feature a live band playing songs from this year’s lineup.

“They will play songs again and people can guess who the band is and win meet and greets with the bands,” Craft said. “That, and the Pritchard radio stations are the only place you can win meet and greets.”

He said another issue was providing more opportunities for local bands to play. In the past, local bands have opened the main stage, but have been required to play their own music. Cover songs weren’t allowed on the Main Stage and the beer tent after Main Stage performances were long performances that were tough on local bands.

“Sunday will be a little different this year. It’s going to be more of a local-oriented music day. The way we’ve done it the last few years we haven’t had a real spot for local bands except for the beer tents,” Craft said.

“We really wanted to provide a way to let local bands come play. We’ve heard a lot of requests for this band or that band. The way we had it structured we didn’t have a venue for those bands. So were gonna try that on Sunday with a lower cover charge.”

He said the regular 4-day ticket would include Sunday. But for those that are just wanting to come on Sunday for the local bands, a lower ticket price is being implemented.

For the second year in a row, the festival won’t have access to the east side of Riverview Park as the city continues an $11 million upgrade to the marina and adjacent park issues.

“We asked on Facebook and took suggestions and our number one suggestion was to add a day of country. We listened to the fans and that’s what we’re going to do,” Craft said.

Craft said the marina project is all about progress and is good for the city, despite eliminating some parking and activity space used in the past. He said relocating the depot to the park is also good for the city and could provide some opportunities to bring in more fans.

“The depot project is amazing and shows pride in our town,” he said. “The marina will do the same thing once that’s completed. Every town our size needs a functioning marina if you want to survive on the river. The depot and the marina are great additions to the riverfront and then you throw Riverfest into the mix.”

Riverfest didn’t have access to the east side of the park in 2021 as dirt from the Highway 61 project was moved there in anticipation of raising that side of the park out of the flood plain. Craft said parking was allowed on the west side of the Riverfest site and some dumpsters had to be relocated. Other than that it hasn’t been too much of an obstacle for the festival.

The popular local Battle of the Bands will again take place on Memorial Day weekend at Vinnie’s Longbranch in Fort Madison with the winner getting to open the Main Stage Thursday night.

Another addition will be docks along the Riverfront. Craft said last year boaters were walking up off the river to get food. This year they will be able to tie up and come and enjoy the festival.

Camping will be available again at Rodeo Park.

This year’s festival will run Thursday, Aug. 4 – Sunday Aug. 7.

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