Tallahatchie RiverFest has come and gone, the events all happened as advertised, and despite the rain, attendance was decent. It filled the bill as a community festival.
So now is a good time to take a step back, assess the overall festival and whether it is fulfilling its goal of attracting a regional and growing audience.
RiverFest over the years has had a distinct literary and artsy flavor, which has helped differentiate it from the festivals and concerts that nearly every community puts on.
It has been billed as an event celebrating the visual, literary and performing arts that celebrates the spirit of arts, craftsmen, writer and musicians.
Following that plan has gotten us on the list of top 20 southeast events by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Is that still our niche and, if so, are we advancing and growing that niche? And can our community support a festival with that as its focus?
We know putting on a festival is hard work and requires a cadre of dedicated volunteers. After each year’s event, we think a good post mortem about what’s going well and where we can improve is important.
Are we attracting the arts and crafts vendors that make our festival more than a vendor flea market? How can we attract more? Are we attracting quality literary event entries from throughout the southeast? Do we have the right mix of entertainment and children’s activities to attract all age groups and economic levels?
We would urge the city of New Albany and the Union County Development Association to bring together a committee of civic-minded people and festival volunteers, especially those with experience with the event over the years, to take a look at all aspects of RiverFest and how to make each aspect better.