The Bandera Bulletin

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Riverfest changes produce challenges

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, July 7, 2018 1:42 pm

Hundreds of visitors to Riverfest 2018 had fun and took advantage of cooler than expected weather for events like the floating regatta, the Bandera Idol sing off and watermelon eating contests.

But a number of vendors at the 21st annual Riverfest on Saturday, June 30, said they had weaker sales because the pedestrian traffic seemed to be lower that it was in the past.

Riverfest Event Coordinator Genie Strickland said she was “concerned and sad” about the drop in vendor sales and pointed out that changes to the event did create challenges.

One of the changes was moving the Lonestar Barbecue Society Cook-off to north side of the Highway 173 bridge, a short distance from Bandera City Park where the remainder of the festival activities took place.

“When the cook-off was held in the city park, there was a lot more pedestrian traffic because each cook-off team brought 10 to 20 extra people,” said Strickland, who coordinates the festival for the Bandera Business Association.

Riverfest is the largest fundraiser put on by BBA, she added.   

BBA President Julie Conrad said she expects her organization and the Bandera City Council to meet “sooner than later” to review the format for the festival.

“We usually have 90 cookers and this year we had about half that, mostly because there was less space and the cookers were not close to the river,” said Conrad. “Last time I heard we had 44 teams this year, and we need 50 to break even. The fewer cookers affected this Riverfest a lot.”

Some members of the barbecue teams expressed dissatisfaction with being separated from the rest of the Riverfest activities and away from the river, which was not flowing north of the bridge.

While one cooker said it was nice to have electric and water hookups at the Pioneer River Resort RV park where the cook-off was moved, others said they preferred the old location in city park where there were more activities for friends and family members.

A petition drive got started among the barbecue teams asking Bandera to give the cookoff a variance from new park rules so teams and their cooking rigs could return to city park in the future.

The business association in April had planned to move the entire festival to the Pioneer resort side of the bridge after the city enacted park rules that prohibit traffic along the lower level of the park and close to the river to combat erosion.  A fee hike charged for the use of the park in 2017 also was a problem.

But the association agreed to bring everything but the  barbecue cook-off back to city park two weeks later after City Council agreed to waive the fee for the park and finalized other conditions for the park’s use.

City Councilwoman Toni Kunz said the dropoff in attendance could have been related to the recent drought and heat rather than the layout changes.

She said she’s willing to talk to the business association about how the festival will be held in the future.

Kunz said that will need to come with “an understanding that there are things that have to be improved.”

Many Riverfest visitors, meanwhile, were seen smiling and laughing during the daylong festival.

Among those in the crowd were five couples from Alice, Kingsville and Corpus Christi, who rented five cottages near Riverfest.

The husbands entered vehicles in the Open Car Show, and the wives enjoyed other activities at the festival and shopping in downtown Bandera, said one member of the group, Alicia Nava.

“Some of the couples have been coming to Riverfest for seven years. We love it,” she said.

The youth watermelon eating competition was won by Kutter Riggle, 14, from Bandera, who also won the hot dog eating contest.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.

  • Justin Hamilton - State Farm

    • icon posted: November 09
  • State Farm Insurance

    • icon posted: November 09
  • CommZoom

    • icon posted: March 14
More Display Ads