No Cooler Rule Blamed for Small Crowd at Montgomery Riverfront Concert


By Heather VacLav

Fourth of July celebrations kicked off at the Riverfront in Montgomery Wednesday night, but they didn’t have as much bang as expected.

“I think the fee to get in was okay, but they took our water at the gate,” said John Campbell of Wetumpka. “And then now they’re charging us $2 a bottle.” Campbell said Montgomery’s new “no coolers” rule ruined the first half of his night.
The city of Montgomery and the Sand Bar sponsored the Fourth of July concert on the Riverfront. It cost guests $15 to see the concert featuring local band Spike Graham and headliner Blackberry Smoke. The Riverfront opened up the gates to the public for free at 8:45 p.m. just in time to see the fireworks.
While more than 1,000 people lined the Riverfront for the fireworks show, the majority of the people watching the display did not pay for the concert. In fact, the fireworks interrupted Blackberry Smoke’s show, so those who got in for free for the fireworks, got to see the rest of the concert without paying.
“I can see them not letting you bring alcohol in, but water, they probably would get a bigger crowd if they let you bring water in,” Campbell said shaking his head while sitting in a lawn chair waiting for the bands to start.
Campbell and his family weren’t the only ones displeased with the “no cooler” rule, but some were able to look over it to see the bands.
“When we saw Blackberry Smoke in Lake Martin it was $30,” said Glen Crumpton of Montgomery, a Blackberry Smoke fan. “So this is like a deal [on the Riverfront] but of course we’d like to bring our coolers in, everybody would.”
A handful of food and drink vendors lined the sidewalks: Awesome Dawgs hot dogs, Cantina Restaurant, the Sandbar, Brewster's Ice Cream and Nancy's Italian Ice, but some guests didn’t think they were enough.
Michael Grandalski of Montgomery came to watch the music, see the Montgomery Biscuits game and spend time with his family. “[It] was strange that a couple of the restaurants were closed, so there was really no place to eat, it was hard to find a place to eat [other than the vendors].”
Many people who paid to get in said they would not come back for the Fourth of July concert next year unless Montgomery changes the “no cooler rule”.
Riverfront Facilities did not have a comment on the crowd size as a result of the "no cooler rule" Wednesday night.