Arkansas’ two largest cities dropped details of their annual music festivals Wednesday (April 4), with Little Rock-based RiverFest Music Festival and Fort Smith-based Peacemaker Festival announcing headliners.
RiverFest will be held on the weekend of May 25-27, welcoming Young the Giant, Young Thug, Kip Moore, Highly Suspect, Jamey Johnson, Margo Price, Echosmith, Rachel Potter, and Levelle Davison. Two months later, Peacemaker, on July 27 and 28, will host Kacey Musgraves, Anderson East, The Cadillac Three, Paul Thorn, and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Both festivals issued press releases stating more announcements will be forthcoming. (Update: Kacey Musgraves will not attend the Peacemaker because of a scheduling conflict.)
Oaklawn Gaming will host the three-day RiverFest from downtown Little Rock.
“Oaklawn has incredible passion for entertainment, celebrating Arkansas’s rich history and the community,” said Jack Daniels, Event Director. “We are delighted to have the patronage of Oaklawn and all of our sponsors as their support enhances the festival experience for the community.”
RiverFest hosted its first event in 1977, but in July of last year, the Board of Directors announced they would suspend the event, citing rising costs as a factor. The cancellation didn’t last long, and it doesn’t appear to be a scaled-back event.
“RiverFest is a long-time tradition of celebrating music. Each day will feature curated support from 50+ acts across two stages with more headliners to be announced in the coming weeks. Attendees can expect to groove to their favorite bands as well as discover new artists and genres,” Daniels said.
In addition to the music, RiverFest will host family-friendly activities, such as the Ford Family Fun Zone featuring carnival rides, a Baggo tournament, a banana derby, and a variety of performers and artists, such as street performers and magicians. Disney star Skai Jackson of Jessie and BUNK’D will be in attendance as well and will be available to meet with fans.
Weekend passes, including VIP weekend passes, are now available for purchase at RiverFestArkansas.com. Single day tickets will only be available for purchase at the gate. Advance weekend passes begin at $40 and will only be available until April 30. VIP weekend passes begin at $150. A limited amount of VIP passes will offer passholders unlimited re-entry, special seating, exclusive lounges, and other to-be-announced benefits.
Other sponsors of the event include Rock City Harley-Davidson, Rock Region Metro, Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Lasik Vision Institute and Downtown Little Rock Marriott, RiverFest’s Preferred Hotel.
While it doesn’t have the longevity of RiverFest, Peacemaker, presented by Cox, will welcome its fourth consecutive year when its first act takes the stage on July 27. The event began in 2014 with a Facebook conversation and resulted in acts like Jason Isbell, Leon Russell, the Old 97’s, and Turnpike Troubadours playing Fort Smith. Johnson, one of RiverFest’s performers this year, headlined Peacemaker in 2017.
The mission “is to educate the public and expand people’s cultural knowledge by offering a wide variety of music genres, which includes rock, country, and Americana,” a press release from festival organizers stated. ” Over the past three years, Peacemaker has brought thousands to downtown Fort Smith.
“This is our fourth festival and we’re really excited about the talent this year,” said Trent Goins, Festival President. “Our all volunteer board has worked really hard to make this a quality event for our city. I’m proud to be working with all of them.”
Tickets for the two-day event go on sale online Friday (April 6) at 9:00 a.m. Pricing levels is tiered. Early Bird pricing for two-day festival tickets start at $45. Early Bird VIP tickets start at $149 for a two-day pass.
The Peacemaker Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to providing a portion of its proceeds directly back to the community through local charities. Some of the organizations receiving assistance from Peacemaker in the previous three years have included Girls Inc., The Children’s Emergency Shelter, and Developmental Wings. In year one, the event raised $10,000 with another $15,000 for year two. Along with the increase in giving, the Festival has seen steady growth from one year to the next with roughly 7,000 reported in 2015 and over 8,000 for year two. Peacemaker has yet to announce economic impact numbers. RiverFest’s was estimated at $33 million in 2017.
• RiverFest Lineup
Young the Giant
Formerly known as The Jakes, Young the Giant was signed by Roadrunner Records in 2009 and they released their eponymous debut album in 2010. The band’s first three singles, “My Body,” “Cough Syrup,” and “Apartment” reached the top five of the U.S. Alternative Songs chart.
Young Thug (Jeffery Lamar Williams) started his career with a series of independent mixtapes beginning in 2011 with “I Came From Nothing.” In early 2013, he signed with Gucci Mane’s 1017 Records, and later that year released his label debut mixtape “1017 Thug” to critical praise. He received mainstream recognition in 2014 with the singles “Stoner” and “Danny Glover.”
Country music artist Kip Moore debuted in 2012 with “Up All Night.” It was the best-selling debut album by a male in 2012 and 2013. The following year, Moore released the single “Young Love,” followed by “Dirt Road” and “I’m to Blame.” Wild Ones, his second studio album, dropped in August of 2015.
Highly Suspect’s 2015 debut album was nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2015 Grammy Awards. That same year, their song “Lydia” was nominated for Best Rock Song. “My Name Is Human” and “Little One” also topped the U.S. Mainstream Rock charts.
Johnson is an 11-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter. He has been called “one of the greatest country singers of our time” by the Washington Post, and has won two Song of the Year Awards from the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM). The Lonesome Song, his 2008 album was certified Platinum for one million in sales and his 2010 follow-up, The Guitar Song, achieved Gold certification. His best-known singles are “Color” and “High Cost of Living.”
Price has had two albums released on the Third Man Records label: Midwest Farmer’s Daughter in 2016 and All American Made, 2017.
Echosmith is an indie pop band best known for their hit song “Cool Kids,” which reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified double platinum by the RIAA with over 1.2 million sales in the U.S. The song was Warner Bros. Records’ fifth biggest-selling digital song of 2014, with 1.3 million downloads sold. The band’s debut album, Talking Dreams, was released in October of 2013.
Potter is an actress and singer. She released her debut EP entitled Live the Dream in 2012, and her first full-length album, Not So Black and White, in 2015. She is also a member of the country trio Steel Union along with Donny Fallgatter and Josh Matheny. She appeared on Broadway as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family in 2011.
Davison is a singer native to Little Rock. He appeared on the 14th season of the NBC singing competition The Voice.
• Peacemaker Lineup
East is an R&B artist from Athens, Alabama. His song “Satisfy Me” was released in March of 2015 and received consistent radio airplay. His major-label record debut, Delilah, was released on the Low Country Sound imprint via Elektra in July that same year.
The Cadillac Three
The Cadillac Three is an American Southern rock group primarily known for their single “The South,” featuring Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, and Mike Eli. They have released three albums, with their latest, Legacy, dropping in late 2017.
Thorn has released 11 studio albums since 1997. His style is a mix of blues, country, and rock. In 2008, his album A Long Way from Tupelo hit No. 7 on the Billboard U.S. Heat chart.
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Oklahoma native Hubbard has released 17 albums since 1976. The Texas country singer-songwriter’s latest, Tell The Devil That I’m Getting There As Fast As I Can, was released in 2017. His memoir, A Life… Well, Lived, was published in 2015.