, Port Arthur, Texas

Port Neches

April 30, 2014

RiverFest Youth Night draws thousands

PORT NECHES — Thousands of people packed Port Neches Riverfront Park for a chance to hear Christian music during RiverFest’s Youth Night on Wednesday.

Donna Smith and Jennifer Bardwell with First Baptist Church Port Neches brought along about 45 youth to the first ever Youth Night event during the festival. They then met up with a number of families from their church.

“I think this is fantastic and a long time coming,” Smith said. “By the turnout tonight I’m sure they’ll (RiverFest Committee) plan more events like this.”

Smith and Bardwell were pleased that the festival now includes the night filled with Christian music.

“It’s so family oriented, there’s a positive atmosphere and it glorifies God.”

The main stage area was filled with people in chairs, seated on blankets and standing while the bands performed.

Joy Taylor and friend Natalie McNeil, both of Bridge City, stood together while listening to Christian bands About a Mile and City Harbor while waiting for the headliner of the night — Sidewalk Prophets.

The duo weren’t part of the many church groups in attendance though.

“We’re just out here for the music. We’re youthful adults,” Taylor said with a laugh. “And we love good Christian music.”

RiverFest Committee Members Shana Burt and Shane Reedy were equally pleased with the crowds. It was Burt’s idea to hold a Youth Night and feature Christian bands.

“I’m over the moon excite about this,” Burt said. “We had five to 10 churches cancel their services tonight to come out here.”

Reedy estimated the crowd — at about 8 p.m. — to be near 4,000.

“We are seeing a great cross section of ages, youth and adults and the carnival is doing what it would normally do on a Friday night,” Reedy said. “We are pleased with the support of the city and community. Everybody just embraced tonight.”

Burt said her part in spearheading the Wednesday night event was easy.

“It’s been easy, God did it all,” Burt said. “I made a few phone calls and sent a few e-mails, God did it all.”

A number of churches had food booths inside the entertainment complex and will be able to keep all proceeds, she added.

Port Neches RiverFest continues Thursday through Sunday.

Thursday, May 1

• Ongoing — Treasure Hunt (until treasure found). Sponsored by: BBVA Compass Bank

• 5 to 10 p.m. — Mighty Thomas Carnival and vendors. Wristband night, sponsored by: Philpott Motors

• 5 to 11 p.m. — Entertainment complex open

• 7 to 8 p.m. — LeRoy Thomas and the Zydeco RoadRuunners, riverfront stage

• 9 to 11 p.m. — Wayne Toups & ZyDeCajun


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