A week after it opened, it’s already time for Riverfest to end. And this year, it’ll go out in a bit of an nontraditional way with a some vintage punk rock, a marching band of fire breathing stilt walkers, and a laser show in lieu of fireworks on Saturday, which is the big finale night.
Organizers are hoping that the events will draw one final big crowd to the festival, which opened on May 30 and since then has filled downtown with live music, fried food and family fun.
The final day will include several activities, including a full evening of Nortena music that starts at 4 p.m. at the WaterWalk Pavilion stage just south of the Hyatt. The event will be called Fiesta Del Rio and will feature bands such as Reyna Y Su Unidad Nortena and La Zenda Nortena.
The Kennedy Plaza stage also will be filled with music all afternoon, featuring Vagabond Swing at 2:45 p.m., MarchFourth Marching Band at 4 p.m., Leopold and His Fiction at 5:30 p.m., and Black Joe Lewis at 7 p.m.
Attendees are to report to Kennedy Plaza at 8:30 p.m. for the headlining concert by Marky Ramones Blitzkrieg with Andrew W.K. The group features drummer Marky Ramone, who is the only living member of the best-remembered Ramones lineup. He recruited Andrew W.K., a singer known for his own hits such as “We Want Fun” and “Party Hard,” to front the band on the Blitzkrieg tour. Audiences can expect to hear such Ramone’s classics as “I Want to be Sedated” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
After the concert, MarchFourth will make a return appearance.
The percussion heavy, Oregon-based performance group is a band-meets-circus act, and its members play instruments, hula hoop, walk on stilts and breathe fire, said Ann Keefer, the festival’s vice president for programming. If space permits on crowded Kennedy Plaza that night, the 15 to 20 band members will march through the crowd to the stage, where they’ll put on the bulk of their 30-minute performance.
“They are very high energy and very visual, and they have a lot of simultaneous activities happening on stage,” Keefer said. “They are well known across the country and play at a lot of festivals putting on a spectacle, if you will.”
When they’re done, people on Kennedy Plaza will be treated to a 15- to 20-minute laser light show, which will feature colorful lasers creating dancing patterns all over the surrounding buildings and on screens behind the Kennedy Plaza stage. Low-level pyrotechnics shot from the top of the Garvey Center will provide extra excitement. To view the show, people will need to be in the center of finale action on Kennedy Plaza. Those waiting on the Riverbanks won’t see much of anything.
The festival has offered both opening and closing night fireworks shows since 2004, but this year, organizers decided to explode everything on opening night.
“To be honest, having a full-blown fireworks show is quite expensive, and doing two in one festival is quite expensive,” Keefer said. “This was kind of an alternative to look at something different that was a little more manageable in terms of cost.
“Anybody who made it to the opening night show got a good fireworks show,” she said, “maybe the best we’ve ever seen.”