published Thursday, June 11th, 2009

A walker’s guide to Riverbend


by Laura Galbraith

People look forward to Riverbend every year because it gives them a chance to literally sit back and enjoy the music.

The festival also gives attendees the chance to enjoy a good workout.

“If you just walk from one end (of the festival site) to the other, you’ve (walked) a mile,” said Sallie Beckes, the marketing director for Friends of the Festival. “If you go back, you’ve got your two-mile walk in for the day, which is a good thing for all of us.”

However, with so much to see and do, it is important for festival-goers to remember that hours walking across the downtown area can lead to serious wear and tear on the body.

The unrelenting sun, masses of excited people and limited amount of shade can make an overall healthy person sick from dehydration and exhaustion. With that in mind, it might be helpful for a first-time Riverbend attendee to look over the following recommendations.

n Stay hydrated.

This is probably the most important thing you can do for your body, especially if you will be drinking alcohol as well.

“If you’re going to drink beer, try to drink a bottle of water in between,” said Chattanooga resident Jared Ross.

Vendors are available at every corner to sell water and other beverages.

“This year at Riverbend I noticed that beside the Bud Light Stage, there’s an EMS tent, and you can take your water bottle over (there), and they’ll refill it for free,” said India Anderson-Cox, an employee at the Natural Body on Broad Street.

n Avoid overheating.

When the heat begins to feel unbearable, find a place to sit in the shade or visit what Ms. Beckes calls Riverbend’s “little oasis.”

“If you get hot, we’ve got a misting tent, which is right across from the Chattanooga Pier on Riverfront Parkway,” Ms. Beckes said. “It’s just a neat little walk-through misting tent that will cool you down if you get hot.”

n Protect your skin.

One of the worst feelings you can get during the summer months is waking up with a massive sunburn.

To avoid any feelings of regret, frequently apply sunscreen to skin that will be exposed in the hot sun. This is important to do even if you are wanting to end the day with a tan.

“There are sun worshippers out there, but do wear sunblock,” said Ms. Beckes. “Sun is nothing to mess with.”

n Dress appropriately.

Ms. Beckes said she recommends cotton and other lightweight material.

“I’d dress in layers,” she said. “Whether it’s summer or winter, you can always take clothes off or strip down.”

To avoid painful swelling or blisters on your feet, wear comfortable shoes. Add a hat or visor for more protection from the sun.

n Expand your horizons.

Ms. Beckes said there are “hidden areas” of Riverbend that many people don’t explore.

“A lot of people come in, they’ll go to the Bud Light Stage maybe to see Jake Owen or maybe see Willie Nelson or Three Dog Night on the Coke Stage, but over on the Olgiati Bridge just past concessions row, there are some very interesting mobile exhibits.”

Both kids and adults will enjoy the PlayStation Experience Tour and other interactive activities found in this area.

According to Ms. Beckes, these areas are also good places to rest because they tend to be less crowded and offer more shade.

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