Downtown Alexandria is set to come alive along the Red River the first weekend of May. Join the City of Alexandria for the sixth Annual AlexRiverFête and celebrate culture, community, and collaboration. The three-day festival takes place May 3rd through 5th, and brings tens of thousands of people together for a weekend of fun set along the banks of the iconic Red River for a celebration of the arts and heritage of Central Louisiana.
Dinner on the Bricks, a tradition built on—you guessed it—the brick streets of Downtown Alexandria, includes dinner, drinks, and live entertainment. This year’s footprint has been expanded to include more restaurants and more seating than ever before! Plan to dine on the bricks Thursday, May 3rd on Third Street from 6:00pm-9:00pm as locally owned restaurants and caterers showcase the best of their menus. Sponsored by the City of Alexandria Division of Community Services, admission is free, but menu prices vary. Following dinner, The Main Squeeze returns to Cenla to close out the evening. They’ve shared the stage with The Roots, Aloe Blacc, Janes Addiction, Umphrey’s McGee, and Trombone Shorty; and performed at music festivals like Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, Summer Camp, and High Sierra. Blending soul and hip-hop, funk with rock, the band appeals to your head, heart and body.
ArtFête is a free, family-oriented arts festival with over 100 participating artists, vendors, and live entertainment acts. Held in Downtown Alexandria’s Cultural Arts District, the sidewalks, green spaces, and alleys come alive as local artists demonstrate and sell their works of art. The streets of downtown will be filled with various artistic offerings, performers, hands-on displays, food trucks, and even a beer garden. Arts Council of Central Louisiana’s Art Fête will be held from 5:00pm to 10:00pm on Friday, May 4th and from 10:00am on Saturday, May 5th. Vendor space is still available. Vendors receive one large rectangular table and two chairs. Each booth space is 10 feet by 10 feet. Tents are allowed but not provided. Additional tables and chairs may be used as long as they stay within the 10 x 10 booth area. The Arts Council is also looking for volunteers to help coordinate vendors and entertainers. Please contact Julie Prevot at (318) 484-4474 or Julie@louisiana-arts.org for more info.
Indulge your nostalgia for the open road of days gone by at this year’s AlexRiverFête as the Classic Car Fête returns. The show will once again feature the best classic cars from across Central Louisiana on display. Like Hot Wheels come to life, Classic Car Fête is sure to ignite the excitement of your inner motor head.
The Alexandria Museum of Art will present its ever-popular quarterly Community Luminary Workshops ahead of AlexRiverFête in the month of April, culminating with the May 4th RiverFête Illuminated Procession. You won’t want to miss this one! During this all ages workshop, participants will create a variety of luminaries. This year, in addition to the usual favorite parasols and illuminated hats, participants will create Light Sabers as part of the “May the Fourth Be With You” theme of the procession!
AlexRiverFête is known for pleasing the crowds with musical talent from Central Louisiana as well as national performers and this year is no different! Musical acts include headlining performances by ZZ Ward and Anderson East. ZZ Ward is a Fedora-rocking, guitar-shredding, harmonica-wielding blues siren, vocal powerhouse and multi-instrumentalist who credits artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, and Vera Ward Hall and Big Mama Thornton as her main inspirations. She has lit up the screen on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, Conan, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, The View, and many others and practically set stages ablaze on tours with Eric Clapton, Gary Clark, Jr., and Fitz & The Tantrums and at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Firefly, and Made In America. She is currently on tour following the 2017 release of her album “The Storm”.
Anderson East is a Southern Soul singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia. He got his start singing and playing piano in the church where his grandfather was the minister. East most recently collaborated on the #1 soundtrack to the film “Fifty Shades Darker” and has appeared on the Ellen Degeneres Show to promote his newest album, “Encore”. Other musical entertainment on the main stage includes The Main Squeeze, The Soul Rebels, The New Respects, Mo Lowda & the Humble, The Vegabonds, 79ers Gang Mardi Gras Indian Band, and Central Louisiana’s very own Cenla Brass Band. And you don’t want to forget about the Indie Village stage offering homegrown music the entire weekend.
The Louisiana Dragon Boats return as an integral part of AlexRiverFête again this year. Race day is set for Saturday, May 5th on the Red River. Dragon Boat Racing started in China over 2,500 years ago and has long been their National Sport. In North America, it has grown from relative obscurity a few decades ago, to over 1,000 annual events with over 1,000,000 participants. Dragon boating is visually spectacular, easy to learn, and most importantly, extremely safe. Anyone can do it, regardless of age, gender, or athletic ability. Furthermore, it is a sport where men and women compete together in an unbiased and fun environment. Each of the large wooden canoes requires a crew of 21 folks: 20 paddlers and one drummer. At least eight team members must be women. The drummer leads the pace of the group and wears the most elaborate costume! The course is set on the Red River in front of the amphitheater, and each team gets to practice the week before the race with a helmsman from 21 Dragons to get ready for race day on Saturday. After the first race, teams are broken into 3 heats based on race times to compete for the winning slots in each heat.
Paddling on the river isn’t the only way to win! Each group gets a tent area along the riverfront where they compete for spirit awards for enthusiasm, theme, decorations and costumes. The drummer from each team gets to compete in a style show, too! The teams also enjoy banter about who cooked the best food. It’s a winning day all around with a lot of friendly competition and fun! If you have been looking for a teambuilding activity for your business, civic organization, or friend group, you won’t find any other activity more impactful than Dragon Boat Racing. To be successful, your team must work together and the synchronicity that happens when a group paddles together creates a winning team—both on and off the water!
Now in its eighth year, the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races support the Alexandria Museum of Art, funding exhibitions that share untold stories, explore social issues, highlight important historical artists, encourage student artists, and highlight the variety of cultures that make up Central Louisiana. AMoA’s collection gallery exhibition, “Connected Visions”, explores the relationships between artists and art professors in Louisiana over the past century.
For more information on the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races or to register your team, contact the Alexandria Museum of Art at (318) 443-3458 or visit themuseum.org.
As always, AlexRiverFête, promises to be an unforgettable experience for the whole family. From Dinner on the Bricks, the Arts Council of Central Louisiana’s Art Fête and the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races, to live entertainment from local and major musical acts, as well as great food and a popular children’s play area, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the Fête, so make time to join and enjoy the party!
To learn more about the festival and lineup stay in touch on all social media platforms (@AlexRiverFête) and at AlexRiverFête.com.