The inaugural Rockin’ on the River Festival will take place from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday at J.P. Coleman State Park. The event is a celebration of Mississippi’s Bicentennial and Armed Forces Day.
“We wanted to do something different for this area. We wanted to do something to showcase Tishomingo County and our veteran’s and show our pride in this area. It’s so beautiful and so few people know about it,” said event organizer Sandra Medlin.
Medlin, who is the event organizer, along with Lee Ann Robertson, said Robertson had approached her and asked Medlin what she thought about doing a festival in Eastport.
“She [Robertson] had already been thinking about it, planning and talking to people around here. It was decided that it would be fun to get the Patriot Guard involved to honor veterans and things started taking shape and growing until it was too big for Eastport,” said Medlin.
Part of the festivities for the Rockin’ on the River Festival now includes 200-300 Patriot Guard members doing a ride-in to escort veterans to the Veteran’s Ceremony.
“This festival basically started out being about 300 people having a party at Eastport and now it’s turned into 3,000 to 5,000 people at J.P. Coleman State Park,” said Robertson, with a laugh.
Robertson has had to plan for overflow parking at Tri-State Commerce Park Building 100 and Alliant Techsystems, and shuttling festival attendees to the event location.
The plan is for all attending veteran’s to meet at Tri-State Commerce Park between 9:30 and 10 a.m.. The Patriot Guard will escort the veterans in and the veteran’s ceremony will take place at 12 p.m. in from of the hotel at J.P. Coleman State Park.
Robertson said the Dwight Wadkins Band will take the stage at 1 p.m. and play until 4 p.m.
After the Veteran’s Ceremony, Robertson said the Patriot Guard will be doing various rides out and returning throughout the day.
At 5 p.m. there will be The Bob Wiley Memorial Boat Parade coming in — with boats decorated in red, white and blue — and the Steve Hopper Band will take the stage and play until 9 p.m.
“It’s going to be a great day,” said Robertson.
The main sponsors of the event are A&B Distributing and Sonic, but Robertson said the event has grown so much, so quickly, that they could use some help with donations. She also noted there is a need for more food vendors for the event. She hopes that more food vendors will see this event as a great opportunity and sign up.
Along with entertainment, the boat parade and the veteran’s honors, the Army will be bringing some strategic vehicles for educational display, the Cherokee Tribe of Mississippi will be there with instructional literature about the Trail of Tears and there will be RV’s on display, as well.
The Rockin’ on the River Festival is a free event. However, J.P. Coleman State Park will charge $6 per car as a park entry fee — no matter how many occupants in the car. Please advise at the park entrance if you are an armed forces veteran.
If you ride a shuttle bus into the park, it is $2 per person.
“Come on out and bring your lawn chairs or blankets. Come by boat or by land and wear your red, white and blue,” said Robertson.
(For more information, to make donations, or food vendor sign up, call Sandra Medlin at 662-423-8638 or Lee Ann Robertson at 662-279-0538, or visit the webpage at rockinontheriverfest.com or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)