Here’s what you can look forward to at this year’s RiverFest

Published 12:40 am Friday, March 25, 2022

PORT NECHES — With about a month to go before festival grounds open, RiverFest organizers in Port Neches are putting the final touches on the first “normal” year since the start of the pandemic.

While the annual event took place in 2021 and hosted record crowds, uncertainty on whether it would happen coupled with hesitancy to attend left more questions than answers in the days before it began.

But with local COVID-19 numbers at a comforting low — only five new cases were reported in Mid and South County from March 15-23 — plans have been solidified for next month’s itinerary.

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“We are fast and furious,” Riverfest President Lance Bradley said. “It’s going to be here before we know it.”

On Thursday, the Port Neches City Council voted to allow participants of the 6th annual Smoke On The Water barbecue cook-off to have alcohol. In years prior, the cook-off took place at Neches River Wheelhouse but was moved to the park last year.

This year’s event takes place April 22-23, one weekend prior to the festival, itself.

And it generally brings in 25-30 teams from all over the state, said Joe Rooney who helps organize the contest.

Council’s motion allows participating team members 21 and older to have alcohol that is not to be given away or sold.

The festival itself begins April 27 with Faith and Family Night, and ends May 1.

“There’s a lot of energy,” Bradley said. “Last year we got back into the festival. We were one of the first after COVID started slowing down. We’re not in the exact same situation this year, but I think having an outdoor event makes people more comfortable.”

Nightly entertainment will consist of Red Rocks Worship on April 27, Nightbird on April 28, Flatland Cavalry and Jon Wolfe on April 29 and Gene Delafose and Wayne Toups on April 30.

Riverfest Passes will be done differently this year and not require photos or for pass holders to be present during purchase. Patrons will be given a ticket per pass that is to be redeemed at a ticket booth for a wrist band that lasts the duration of the festival. They are $50 each.

For information on where and when passes can be purchased or a complete list of events, visit