Rock the Riverfront returns to Chattanooga with a new installation, focus on Latino culture

Contributed photo by Creos

After a successful launch in 2022, Rock the Riverfront, a monthlong spring festival presented by River City Company, returns to the shores of the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga March 17-April 16.

Rock the Riverfront will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will again include local musicians, artists, vendors and food trucks on select days. But according to Dawn Hjelseth, vice president of marketing and communication for River City Company, organizers also wanted to bring something new to the Chattanooga Green near Ross's Landing.

"Last year, we had the giant seesaws, and people absolutely loved them and played on them all monthlong," she says. "This year, we were looking for something different, fresh."

The 2023 Rock the Riverfront will feature a special focus on Latin American culture with a new art installation of "larger than life" spinning tops, woven with colorful fabric in a traditional Mexican style, created by design firm Esrawe + Cadena. Each giant top functions as both artwork and a rotating platform, which the public is invited to interact with, to spin or to sit on.

Alongside the installation, throughout the month, the festival will showcase a variety of events, including egg hunts, tequila tastings and Latin hip-hop and Zumba dance classes.

"We're taking the opportunity to really highlight our growing Latino community here and all their amazing cultural experiences that they're able to provide at the event," Hjelseth says. "There's going to be educational moments about different Latino cultures that can be found in Chattanooga ..."

Last year's festival saw more than 33,000 visitors, surpassing organizers' goal of 20,000. The Chattanooga Tourism Company estimates Rock the Riverfront brought $1.5 million in revenue to businesses nearby as well as $100,000 to festival vendors.

This year's goal is to attract even more visitors and increase the economic impact on local businesses to $2 million.

"The response was just overwhelming," Hjelseth says. "Our residents and visitors raved about it. It felt truly authentic to Chattanooga ..."

Other festivals hosted at the downtown riverfront -- Ironman or Riverbend, for example -- are "pay to play" events. But Chattanoogans, says Hjelseth, "wanted something that was free, and they wanted something that all ages can enjoy and participate in -- so grandma, grandpa, grandchildren can go and play together."

  photo  PhotographesCommercial