» By Chaseton Donahoe
Thousands of people took to the streets of Clarksville to enjoy the 11th annual Rivers and Spires Festival in downtown Clarskville. The three-day festival was held from Thursday, April 18, through Saturday, April 20.
The event had a total of five stages featuring a variety of both regional and local artists, the ever-popular Brewfest, the Family Fun Zone and the Green Zone as well as many other crafts vendors and a huge selection of food tents.
This year’s Brewfest featured over 80 different beers from regional brewers as well as a cooking show and one of the five stages available for attendees listen to while they enjoyed their brews on Saturday, April 20.
“I love the various types of beer that were available to sample at Brewfest,” said Tevin Gatlin, senior psychology major. “The Michael Jackson impersonator was very believable, but I didn’t like the free-hugs guy.”
The festival also had the Courthouse Stage, which hosted Clarksville’s Got Talent, and the Public Square Stage, on which Who’s Bad, the extremely talented Michael Jackson tribute band played on Friday night, April 19. Saturday, April 20th’s lineup featured the Dixie Highway Band, singing country and classic rock songs such as “Long Train Runnin,” the dynamic and comedic Chris Janson who sang about the importance of family and corn, and The Family Fun Zone Stage featured Christian Rock group Building 429, stopping off on their Give Me Jesus tour. Country music star, JoDee Messina wrapped up the three-day event with her headline performance on Saturday night, April 20.
John Hoppers, sophomore biology major said Rivers and Spires was enjoyable and cool. “Except for the ticket prices. They were very expensive. But everyone had a lot of fun, and I thought it was great overall.”
Connor Weldon, 17, thought the festival was unique and entertaining.
“I like seeing all the musicians,” Weldon said. “I think even more people should get involved.“
The festival also hosted its annual Last Band Standing competition was sponsored by Clarksville’s Z97.5 radio station. The competition took place on the Strawberry Alley stage and judged the best of participating local bands. Thursday night’s April 18 winner was Sideshow Romance, and Friday’s April 19 winner was Transcend the Fallen.
Saturday, April 20 had the two winners go head-to-head, with a special appearance by 2011’s Last Band Standing winner, The Chris Bell Band, who ended the night with a cover of “Free Bird.” This was done while the judges hashed out their decision, ultimately giving the overall win to Sideshow Romance.
“I think the festival is a really cool way for local musicians to expose themselves to more people,” said Payden Donahoe, junior chemistry major. “It’s also good for signed artists to get recognized and promote their music. It’s just a really fun experience for everybody.”
The festival has been an annual event since its start in 2003, and has recently been named a part of the Screaming Eagle Trail, a part of the Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways initiative.