A free riverbank concert featuring Grammy Award-winning Cajun entertainer Wayne Toups, introduction of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s 2018 induction class, and fireworks over Cane River Lake in downtown Natchitoches is set for Friday evening, June 29.
The Rockin’ River Fest, presented by Rapides Regional Medical Center, is a free concert and festival beginning at 6 p.m. and running until 10:30 at the Rue Beauport Riverfront stage, featuring amphitheater seating for 1,000.
Family-friendly activities for kids, including games led by personnel from the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans, combine with top-quality musical entertainment from Toups, along with popular regional bands Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, Billy O’Con and Badd Apple.
Food and refreshments will be available near the stage from Dickey’s Barbeque, Smoothie King and Kona Ice.
The Saints and Pelicans will provide children of all ages with football and basketball fun. Golf putting games are provided by Louisiana Propane Dealers, with science activities from Rapides Regional Medical Center.
For a special treat, the VIP Taste of Tailgating, presented by MidSouth Bank, will begin at 7:30 in a giant, air-conditioned tent next to the stage. Restaurants from around Natchitoches are providing outstanding tailgating dishes with beer, wine and specialized cocktails available among the refreshments inside the tent. A few dozen tickets are still available for $75 from the Natchitoches Area Jaycees or online here.
Billy O’Con and Badd Apple will kick off the music at 6, with Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs following for a set before Toups joins them at 8:45 to begin two sets sandwiched around the Hall of Famer introductions and fireworks.
“We’re aiming to present the outdoor party of the summer for Natchitoches and the surrounding area,” said Ronnie Rantz, CEO/President of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation. “There’s great music, food and fun for kids of all ages, and the only cost is whatever food and treats you want. Add in Louisiana sports greats being introduced at 9:15 and a trademark-Natchitoches fireworks show at 9:30, then more Wayne Toups entertainment, it’s going to be a fabulous event.
“Inside the air-conditioned tent next to the stage, you can enjoy a buffet of the great restaurants in and near Natchitoches, and great drinks and refreshments, at the VIP Taste of Tailgating. We believe we’re got something for everybody and plenty of it.”
The Rockin’ River Fest is one of the major components of the 2018 Induction Celebration, which begins Thursday evening at 5 with the La Capitol Federal Credit Union Kickoff Reception open to the public free of charge from 5-7 at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum.
The cornerstone event is the Saturday evening Induction Dinner and Ceremony presented by State Farm Insurance at the Natchitoches Events Center. It will have an audience of over 700 in attendance, along with live coverage on Cox Sports Television, which will also air Thursday afternoon’s press conference at 3 p.m.
“Along with putting on a tremendous celebration for our 11 inductees and their families, and the Hall of Fame members inducted in past years, our primary goal is to market Natchitoches,” said Rantz. “That’s why we’ve created the Rockin’ River Fest, hoping to build it into an event that brings thousands of people to Natchitoches on Friday night of our induction weekends in future years, and that’s why we’re thrilled to be going live on Cox Sports Television to millions of viewers in 18 states.
“None of this could happen without all of our local volunteers, who are helping staff our events and showing why Natchitoches is, like USA Today readers voted, the Best Small Town in the South,” he said.
For more on the entire induction weekend, visit the weekend events page at the official online home of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.