RiverFest moves to parking lot

Many of the events of the Tallahatchie RiverFest festival have been moved to the city parking lot on Carter Avenue near the Union County Library.

Organizers of the event, scheduled for today and Saturday, scrambled Thursday to get the lot ready for the vendors and concerts that draw thousands of people annually to New Albany.
The festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, was forced out of its downtown location on Bankhead Street in front of the Union County Courthouse because of a sentencing hearing going on at the courthouse.
The sentencing proceedings in the capital murder case of Pontotoc resident David Neal Cox Sr., who has pleaded guilty in the shooting death of his estranged wife, are underway in the courtroom. Circuit Judge John A. Gregory said the noise from the music and the crowd would be too much of a distraction.
Phil Nanney, executive director of the Union County Development Association, said the festival events will be held as scheduled, just at a different location.
The arts and crafts and food vendors, the Paint the Town event, and all of the musical entertainment on the Bob Johnson Stage will be held in the parking lot, he said.
    The RiverFest Community Kickoff Luncheon will be held as scheduled at noon Friday at the First United Methodist Church event hall.
    The BNA Bank River Run will be held downtown on Bankhead Street as originally scheduled Saturday morning. The Tallahatchie River Players event will remain at the Magnolia Civic Center.
    The Rock Bottom River Run will still operate out of the Union County Heritage Museum on Cleveland Street. And the Smoke on the Water barbecue contest will still take place Saturday morning at the Park Along the River.
    Thursday Nanney and Joanne Lesley, executive assistant of the development association, were marking spots for vendors to set up in the city parking lot. City crews from the Light, Gas and Water Department were cutting tree limbs and setting up electric service throughout the lot.
    The use of the large city lot for the festival will put additional pressure on parking for the festival. Festival goers will need to park “wherever you can find a spot,” Nanney said.