By BRADEN LAMMERS
This weekend, summer arrives in Jeffersonville.
Aside from it being the Memorial Day holiday, the unofficial start to summer for many, in Jeffersonville it marks the launch of a host of summer events being held at RiverStage.
The floating entertainment venue on the Ohio River — located at Spring Street and Riverside Drive has become an increasingly popular attraction for the city, hosting Jeffersonville’s Summer Concert Series and Twilight Movie Series, both of which will resume starting Saturday.
“Our crowds are growing and growing every year,” said Sara Schutz, director of special events and RiverStage for Jeffersonville’s Parks Department. “People, I think, are figuring out that we have a RiverStage.”
A few new events have been added to the RiverStage calendar this summer and some of the favorite attractions have expanded.
“Our twilight cinema, we’ve really seen that grow,” Schutz said. “We’ve decided to extend that this year through August.”
Twilight cinema features a family movie screened at the RiverStage on Saturday evenings.
Jay Ellis, Executive Director of Jeffersonville Main Street Inc., said he has seen the amount of families taking advantage of the Saturday night movies increase.
“They get to see a movie ... under the stars, on the waterfront — you can’t beat that,” he said.
There will also be a special screening in October in conjunction with a new event being held at the RiverStage, a Kids Halloween Festival on Oct. 26. The Halloween event is one of about five new attractions coming to the RiverStage this year, Schutz said.
Other new events include the Jeffersonville FOP’s Country Stampede; Rock on Water — a Christian concert event; and GospelFest. The Jeffersonville FOP Country Stampede will feature Exile and Juice Newton and is slated for June 20.
Popular events also will be returning to the RiverStage.
“Of course we’re continuing the summer concert series ... [and] we have our Smokin’ on the River [barbecue competition],” Schutz said.
The summer concert series kicks off May 25 and will last through Aug. 30. The concerts, aside from special events, will be held from 7 to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays.
“It definitely brings people in,” Ellis said of the RiverStage events.
He said people plan their weekends around the RiverStage concerts or the concerts in Warder Park, which are held on Fridays and begin tonight. Events at RiverStage primarily benefit restaurants the night of the event, but has a secondary impact by bringing people downtown to the businesses to which they have been exposed.
“I think it’s very effective,” Ellis said. “That is a very unique venue and it’s not something every city can boast. They’ve gotten more popular. I think every year the word-of-mouth builds.”
For the fifth year, Jeffersonville will host the two-day Smokin’ on the River BBQ, Blues and Brew Festival. The event is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15.
The city’s free Anchors Aweigh program will return for its second season. The fitness programs will be held at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays, from June 3 to Sept. 28. Each day will offer a different type of fitness program.
During the Friday and Saturday night events, as well as some special events, Riverside Drive from Spring to Pearl streets will be closed.
The street closures were approved at Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting. The closures will be in effect from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays from tonight through Aug. 31. Additional closures were requested and approved for Sunday, June 9, Wednesday, July 3 and Thursday, July 4.
No parking restrictions will also be in effect during those times on Riverside Drive.
Visit riverstage.com for updated information.