Fes­ti­val lineup to be an­nounced to­day

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY BARRY COURTER STAFF WRITER

The Moon River Fes­ti­val is re­turn­ing to Coolidge Park for a sec­ond year and this year’s lineup will be an­nounced at 10 a.m. Mon­day.

The full sched­ule for the Sept. 7-8 event will be posted at times freep­ress.com and fes­ti­val co-founder Drew Hol­comb and Jonathan Sus­man, with the city of Chat­tanooga, will have a live dis­cus­sion at face­book.com/times freep­ress, as well.

Pre­vi­ous fes­ti­val-go­ers will have the chance to pur­chase spe­cially priced tick­ets Tues­day from 10 a.m. un­til mid­night, while sup­plies last. Tick­ets for the pub­lic go on sale Wed­nes­day at 10 a.m. and will be avail­able at moon­river­fes­ti­val.com.

All of the 10,000 avail­able tick­ets for last year’s fes­ti­val were sold within eight hours of go­ing on sale, with 61 per­cent of buy­ers com­ing from out­side the Chat­tanooga area, said Jeff Cuel­lar, AC En­ter­tain­ment vice pres­i­dent of strate­gic part­ner­ships.

Sus­man called last year’s fes­ti­val “a phe­nom­e­nal suc­cess for a firstyear event” on many lev­els. For starters, it was nom­i­nated for a Poll­star Award for best mu­sic fes­ti­val un­der 30,000 ca­pac­ity.

“There were re­ally no big is­sues from the city’s stand­point,” he said. “We missed some tim­ings on some street clos­ings, and we will fix those.”

The fes­ti­val was co-cre­ated in 2014 by mu­si­cian Hol­comb and Paul Steele, man­ager of Drew Hol­comb and the Neigh­bors. When it out­grew the Le­vitt Theatre in Memphis, Hol­comb handed over op­er­a­tion of the event to AC En­ter­tain­ment in Knoxville so that it could grow even big­ger, he said.

“Hon­estly, as the months roll on,”

he said last month be­fore a show he and his wife El­lie Hol­comb per­formed at the Walker Theatre, “I look back and con­tinue to be more nos­tal­gic and wowed. It was so well-re­ceived I re­ally have to pinch my­self. Dreaming it up and … let­ting it go to these new heights is very fun and I’m very proud of it.”

Sus­man said he will be work­ing with all the city de­part­ments in­volved, in­clud­ing trans­porta­tion, parks and re­cre­ation and util­i­ties, as well as with AC and mer­chants and res­i­dents of the North Shore to im­prove any is­sues such as traf­fic for cus­tomers and people who live in the area.

“The plans are not for­mal­ized yet,” he said.

One of the is­sues is to how best to use the Wal­nut Street Bridge. As a pub­lic thor­ough­fare, it can’t be closed to walk­ing traf­fic. Last year, hun­dreds of people gath­ered there to watch from above, some­thing Sus­man said greatly added to the “vibe” of the event.

“We want to uti­lize it,” he said. “It’s a great way to

en­ter into the fes­ti­val. We want to do what is best for the fes­ti­val and com­mu­nity and make sure it is safe, re­ally. It’s a great re­source to have dur­ing the event. Ev­ery­one agrees with that.”

The an­nounce­ment comes al­most two weeks

af­ter Friends of the Fes­ti­val, pro­duc­ers of the city’s largest fes­ti­val, River­bend, an­nounced it would shrink from nine days to four and move from early June to late May. Mary Howard Ade, mu­sic mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor with the Chat­tanooga

Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau, said the two events book­end a busy sum­mer of mu­sic for tourists.

“River­bend is a long­stand­ing event that is be­ing re­vamped that now starts the sum­mer and Moon River is a new fes­ti­val that

al­ready feels like part of Chat­tanooga,” she said.

“Com­bined with Night­fall and River­front Nights, and 3 Sis­ters Blue­grass Fes­ti­val — I could go on and on — it gives the city so much more to of­fer tourists to our city.”

Hol­comb again will host a “Song­writ­ers In-The-Round” event with Heather Mor­gan and Mar­cus Hum­mon on Sept. 6 at the Walker Theatre. Tick­ets will be avail­able ex­clu­sively to Moon River fes­ti­val-go­ers as an add-on.

A lim­ited num­ber of VIP tick­ets also will be avail­able and will in­clude pri­or­ity en­trance, VIP bar ac­cess and view­ing ar­eas, an air-con­di­tioned lounge and re­stroom, a com­mem­o­ra­tive gift pack­age, and en­try into Fri­day’s “Song­writ­er­sIn-The-Round” event.

Also re­turn­ing in 2019 are fan ex­pe­ri­ences in­clud­ing The Look­out Lodge, an on­site sports bar de­signed for fans who want to watch NFL or col­lege foot­ball games; REI Out­door Ex­pe­ri­ence, which in­cludes out­door ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing rock climb­ing un­der the Wal­nut Street Bridge, guided kayak­ing, and stand-up pad­dle­board­ing on the Ten­nessee River; and Ten­nessee Tav­ern, a cu­rated cock­tail and craft beer hub in part­ner­ship with lo­cal Ten­nessee brew­eries and dis­til­leries.

STAFF PHOTO BY DOUG STRICKLAND

Fans dance as Liz Vice per­forms on the first day of the 2018 Moon River mu­sic fes­ti­val at Coolidge Park. The Moon River Fes­ti­val is back for a sec­ond year. The musical lineup will be an­nounced Mon­day.

STAFF PHOTO BY ERIN O. SMITH

Coolidge Park fills with fes­ti­val-go­ers dur­ing the fist Moon River Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in 2018. The first fes­ti­val was sold out.

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