JEFFERSONVILLE — Laurie Proia traveled well over 2,000 miles to spend five days in Jeffersonville dancing, singing with friends over the uniting force that is The Beatles' music.

But she wouldn't miss it for the world. The Santa Barbara, Calif., resident has been attending Abbey Road on the River, a multi-day festival celebrating all things Beatles, since it started in Cleveland in 2004 by resident fan Gary Jacob.

"The thing of it is, we all have this in common," Proia said. "We have international bands that come here — I've known them for years. There's no other way you would be able to connect with a group of people from all over the world in any other way, with only joy.

"It's not a business convention where everybody's sitting; it's all joy, everybody is singing all day, all night and you get to know everybody from all over the world."

Prioa said this year, she traveled with a friend to the city but often, she comes alone "because when I get here I know everybody," she said.

Mary Lou Jones of Bloomington and her longtime family friend Julie Vanaman from Indianapolis have been making the trek down to the river for 10 years. They say the music is timeless.

"The Beatles — even though two are gone and they broke up — they just keep going, generation after generation," Vanaman said. "It's just like the new younger generations are discovering them for the first time and it's like '[I've] been there, done that; I grew up with them, honey.'"

Jones said she is more partial to the band's earlier tracks, and both agreed that Abbey Road is a great way to connect with other fans and also get some time to talk with the bands — at some of their standalone shows, that's harder to do, Vandaman said.

Across Big Four Station, folks laid on blankets, sat under shade trees, danced to their favorite songs. At one of the stages, Finnish native Marjo Varvinen Teponoja danced with friends to Beatline, a band which hails from her home.

Bobby Taylor of Louisville was soaking up some sun on the lawn watching the bands play. He's been coming at least a day or two to the festival for about the past eight years. To him, the Beatles stand for him growing up.

"It brings back the old days when I was young," he said. "They're good music and memories. I think it's really great — it's outside, nice weather, a lot of nice people."

Prioa, the California resident, said Abbey Road is something she and thousands of others look forward to every year. That first year was only three days, and so fewer bands played.

"They were really good bands but it's grown since then," she said. "The quality has gotten better every year."

She added that she really likes the Jeffersonville location. For the past few years, it's been hosted on the sunny side of the river, after years of being in Louisville.

"It's beautiful over here and this year is even better than the last," she said.

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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