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L.D. Martin, Tate Beckham and Chase Graham with All Events of Birmingham hang a banner Thursday on the Riverfest stage. Organizers insist they won't run out of beer at the two-day event.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith
L.D. Martin, Tate Beckham and Chase Graham with All Events of Birmingham hang a banner Thursday on the Riverfest stage. Organizers insist they won't run out of beer at the two-day event.

Record crowds expected at 13th annual Riverfest
Barbecue championship and music at Ingalls Harbor

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Riverfest organizers expect record crowds Friday and Saturday as the festival features its best-known entertainment and highest number of barbecue contestants to date.

The 13th annual event will have more than 70 teams competing for $20,000 in prizes and the state barbecue championship, but what most excites Jim Page, event planner, is the musical line-up.

Ten bands led by Drivin' n' Cryin', The Dave Matthews Tribute Band and Cowboy Mouth, have generated the most pre-event buzz Page can recall.

"The chamber's phones and the phones at the Convention and Visitors Bureau have been ringing off the hook," he said.

"And I've talked to a number of the bands who said they've getting lots of hits on their Web sites and messages boards with people saying they're excited about coming to Decatur," Page said. "We expect our largest crowds ever."

Last year Riverfest moved from Rhodes Ferry Park to Ingalls Harbor, and the larger space allowed the Decatur Jaycees, which started the event in 1995, to go after better known bands.

They booked The Marshall Tucker Band in 2006, and the crowd was so large the event ran out of beer.

"We will not run out of beer this year, I can promise you," Page said.

As always, Riverfest brings in several barbecue vendors, allowing patrons to feast on ribs, chicken and other smoked sensations. There also will be vendors selling traditional festival food, such funnel cakes and ribbon fries.

Vendors will be ready Friday for lunch.

Besides music and food, Riverfest offers organized children's games and activities as well as the annual Ducky Derby. Adopt a rubber duck for $5, and you could win one of $9,300 in prizes.

The live entertainment begins Friday at 5 p.m. with local artist Dusty French

One of Huntsville's premiere party bands, Juice, will perform at 6:15, followed by The Dave Matthews Tribute Band at 7:45. Cowboy Mouth will bring its New Orleans rock 'n' roll to the stage at 9:45.

The music continues Saturday starting at 1 p.m., with Nashville-based singer/songwriter Austin Cunningham. He's followed at 2:30 by local favorite Jeff Whitlow and The Old Barn Band.

The Southern bluegrass band Rollin' in the Hay will play at 4, followed by Tuscaloosa's King Kotton at 6. The Paul Thorn Band will perform at 7:45. And Southern rock legend Drivin' n' Cryin' will complete the entertainment with a show starting at 9:30.

Admission is $3 per person during the day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. After 4 p.m., admission is $10 per adult and $5 per child. Weekend armbands are also available for $15.

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