The Stripes® River Fest 2015 returns to the banks of the Concho River on Sept. 18-19 with two nights of live music, a nighttime Color Up Dark 5K, a washer-pitching tournament, a kids court and a menu of new offerings.
The festivities begin with the Stripes River Fest 2015 Family Night on Friday evening, Sept. 18, with a free concert headlined by “American Idol” finalist Danny Gokey with special guest Taylor Agan. The music begins at 8 p.m. at the Bill Aylor Sr. Memorial RiverStage, 18 E. Avenue A, and continues through midnight. Gates open at 7 p.m.
Gokey was the third-place finalist on the eighth season of “American Idol” in 2009. Following “Idol,” he launched a country music career. His debut album, “My Best Days,” peaked at No. 4 on the U.S. charts in 2010. A former church music director, Gokey has since segued into adult pop/contemporary Christian music. His 2014 album “Hope in Front of Me” debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Christian charts and yielded two top 10 hits: the title track and “More Than You Think I Am.”
Also Friday night, the Southside Lions Club will be hosting its annual Fiestas Patrias celebrating Mexican independence at El Paseo de Santa Angela, 20 E. Avenue D. The celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. and will continue until midnight. Ballet Folklorica Azteca dancers will perform from 7:15 p.m.-8 p.m. and Mariachi Alma Mexicana at 8 p.m. A dance with a deejay begins at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $3; children 10 and younger will be admitted free.
The fun continues all day Saturday, Sept. 19. Among the new offerings will be a pickleball tournament, a father/son skills challenge, sand volleyball, a river raft race, a drumline performance, and a Color Up Dark 5K fun run followed by Glow in the Dark festivities and music. Returning favorites include the annual Lily Fest at the world-renowned International Waterlily Collection in Civic League Park; a golf tournament at Santa Fe Golf Course; a kids court with a petting zoo, pony rides, bounce houses and laser tag; paddle boating and canoeing; and, at The Bosque games court area, the Vega Washer-Pitching Tournament, bocce ball and chess.
While the first two editions of River Fest have featured Color Up 5K’s, this will be the first one run in the dark. The race course along the Concho River will feature four color zones at which runners will be doused with colors that will be highlighted by blacklights. Registration is $35 through July 31 and $40 afterward. Runners can register at colorup5k.com. Packet pickup will begin at 3 p.m. Sept. 19. Waves of runners will be sent every 10 minutes starting at 8 p.m.
The run will begin and end at the RiverStage, which will host Glow in the Dark festivities featuring musical performances and deejays from 8 p.m. until midnight. Performers and ticket prices will be announced at a later date.
Fiestas Patrias continues from 6:30 p.m. Saturday until midnight at El Paseo, with music starting at 8 p.m. Admission will be $5 with children 10 and younger admitted for free. Both nights of the event will feature inflatables and games for children, arts and crafts, and food booths serving aguas frescas, helotes, carnitas, gorditas and taquitos.
Saturday’s packed lineup includes:
- 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. – Lily Fest, the annual celebration of the famed International Waterlily Collection at Civic League Park, 2 S. Park St. Presentations will be at 10 a.m. Free admission.
- 10 a.m.-noon – A three-player scramble golf tournament, Santa Fe Golf Course. Registration is $25 per player at the course’s clubhouse at 111W. Veterans Memorial Drive (formerly River Drive).
- 10 a.m.-noon – Pickleball tournament at Love Municipal Pool, 16 E. Avenue A. There is no entry fee. To register, contact the City’s Recreation division during business hours at Santa Fe Crossing, 702 S. Chadbourne St., or at 325-657-4450.
- 10 a.m.-noon – Father/son skills challenge at YMCA, 353 S. Randolph St. For more information, contact the YMCA at 325-655-9106.
- 10 a.m.-6 p.m. – Kids Court, featuring a petting zoo, pony rides, laser tag, bounce houses (including a large slide and maze), a sandbox and games in the former Neff’s Park area. Unlimited access bracelets will be available for $5.
- 10 a.m.-6 p.m. – Sand volleyball challenge at Bart DeWitt Park (west of South Chadbourne Street). There is no entry fee. To register, contact the City’s Recreation division during business hours at Santa Fe Crossing, 702 S. Chadbourne St., or at 325-657-4450.
- 10 a.m.-6 p.m. – NS Kustomz car show in the Neff’s Park area. Free admission.
- 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. – Concessions and vendors in the Neff’s Park area.
- 10 a.m.-6 p.m. – Bocce ball and chess in The Bosque. Free.
- 11 a.m.-1 p.m. – Girl Scout canoe races on the river from Celebration Bridge to Irving Street. For more information, call 325-655-8961.
- 11 a.m.-2 p.m. – Street performers Raks Sanan in the Neff’s Park area.
- 11 a.m.-4 p.m. – Chili cook-off with audience taste tests in the Neff’s Park area. Registration is $20.
- Noon-6 p.m. – Live music by the Soundstage Artists & Songwriters Association on the Chadbourne Stage under the Chadbourne Street bridge. Free.
- 1 p.m.-7 p.m. – Vega washer-pitching tournament in the games court in The Bosque. Registration is $40 per team. For more information, visit the Vega Washer Pitching Facebook page.
- 2 p.m.-4 p.m. – KIXY River Raft Race on the Concho River. For more information, call Foster Communications at 325-949-3333.
- 4 p.m.-6 p.m. – Paddle boats, canoes and kayaks at Celebration Bridge. The $5 wristband for the kids court includes these rides.
- 4 p.m.-6 p.m. – San Angelo’s Finest drumline performance at El Paseo’s Tiered Plaza. Free.
- 6:30 p.m.-midnight – Fiestas Patrias celebration of Mexican independence at El Paseo, 20 E. Avenue A. Admission $3, free for children 10 and younger.
- 7:15 p.m.-8 p.m. – Ballet Azteca performance at El Paseo.
- 8 p.m.-9 p.m. – Mariachi Alma Mexicana performance at El Paseo.
- 8 p.m.-10 p.m. – Color Up Dark 5K fun run. Registration is $35 through July 31 and $40 afterward. Runners can register at colorup5k.com.
- 8 p.m.-9 p.m. – Mariachi Alma Mexicana performance at El Paseo.
- 8 p.m.-midnight – Glow in the Dark festivities with musical performances and deejays. Performers and ticket prices to be announced.
- 9 p.m.-9:30 p.m. – El Grito de Indepencia at El Paseo.
- 9:30 p.m.-midnight – Dance at El Paseo.
In the event of inclement weather, Foster Communications Coliseum will accommodate the concerts. All other events are subject to a schedule change because of weather.
The first River Fest two years ago celebrated the 100th anniversary of Santa Fe Park and the then-recently completed improvements to the Concho River downtown. The fest proved such a success that the Parks & Recreation Department, with City Council approval and the support of the title sponsor, Stripes® Convenience Stores, renewed the event the past two years.
“We’ve challenged ourselves to grow River Fest last year and this,” Parks and Recreation Director Carl White said. “We’ve kept what folks have liked best and hunted for new activities that will become new favorites. We can’t wait for people to venture down to the Concho River and enjoy themselves all day and all night long. Y’all come!”