Riverbend Brewfest & River Jam Replaces Jubilee CityFest in Montgomery

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By Heather VacLav

Montgomery's final Jubilee CityFest was held last year, and now city officials say it is being replaced with a new one day festival.

It will be held on the same weekend as Jubilee, the third weekend in May on May 18th, but split up into two events at the Riverfront - the "Riverbend Brewfest" and "River Jam".

The Riverbend Brewfest will have dozens of craft beers representing local, regional and nationally renowned breweries. The brewfest will be from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. and will cost $20 per ticket. For an additional $10 with brewfest ticket (or $20 without) there is also a "Brews Cruise" for patrons to get on the Harriott II Riverboat and continue to enjoy local breweries while on the river.

"We're going to have craft beers from all over and of course we have our own micro-brewery right here in the city of Montgomery, right here with Railyard Brewing Company, so we're really excited to have that and along with a lot of breweries all around the state of Alabama," said Denise Welch, event coordinator for the city of Montgomery.

Railyard is sponsoring the Riverbend Brewfest, and co-owner Bob Parker says out of the four major cities in Alabama, Montgomery has the fewest breweries.

"The craft brewery [in Montgomery] is way behind everyone else," Parker said. "So as we get to where they are hopefully legalizing the Home Brewing Law, more and more people [will be] exposed to our beer."

"The growing interest in craft beers is something I'd like to see Montgomery show more support for," said Charles Turnipseed, a Montgomery resident who is excited for the new festival. "I would love to see the state of Alabama legalize individuals from being able to make craft beer."

Following Riverbend Brewfest, festivities will roll right into the second event, "River Jam". River Jam is a free concert featuring two stages and eight artists.  

"One's going to be a singer-songwriter stage, the other one is going to have a number of artists, we have nationally touring artists that are here along with some regional artists," Welch said.

Welch said Top 40 band Nine Days, known for "Story of a Girl" is headling the concert with Alvin Youngblood Hart, a Grammy Award Winning Blues artist. Other artists include: Jess Meuse (Local singer/songwriter), The John Bull Band featuring Sheffield Walker (Local Blues Band), Roman Street (Latin Jazz), Rosco Bandana (Hard Rock Recording Artists-Rock/Country), Sunpie Barnes and the Sunspots (Zydeco) and Ana Egge (Brooklyn Based Singer Alternative & Fold singer/songwriter).

But not everyone in Montgomery is sold on the new idea.

"To say that that's going to replace Jubilee, I don't know," said Suzette Hill, a military wife living at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. "If it's just beer and bands, it just takes away a little bit of the city and its culture and what makes Montgomery special."

Last year, Jubilee started a controversial "no cooler rule,"  which was thought to be the reason why attendance was low. The city says the same rule will apply to the River Jam: people can bring one or two unopened water bottles, or buy beverages at local vendors, as for alcohol, they will have to buy it at The SandBar.

In 2012, about 10,000 people attended Jubilee, even though it was free, it's less than half the number of 2011of about 25,000 people.

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