Riverbend going cashless, only accepting credit-cards to make purchasing easier, faster

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / A police officer watches over the proceedings as Los Amigos Invisibles performs during the third day of the Riverbend Festival on Sunday, June 5, 2022.

Patrons at this year's Riverbend Festival looking to buy a beer or a T-shirt will need to have a credit card as the festival is going cashless.

The event is set for June 2-4.

Two reverse ATMs will be on-site during the event, or festivalgoers can purchase a pre-loaded card ahead of time.

"With the reverse ATMs, you load in the cash, and within a few seconds, it spits out a Visa cash card," said Samantha Wright, director of sales with Friends of the Festival.

She said by phone the new method replaces the radio frequency identification chips attached to the wristbands used to enter and exit the festival. In the past, people could pre-load the chips and use them to make purchases.

The chips will still be used for admission/exit purposes, but Wright said there were problems in 2022 with Wi-Fi access slowing things down.


"We had connectivity issues with so many people being down there," she said. "This will speed things up for people."

Friends of the Festival Executive Director Mickey McCamish said in an earlier interview the change is part of his staff listening to what fans want.

"We really have tried to listen to what people liked and didn't like, and to fix the things we can," he said.

There is no fee to use cards, Wright said.

"We aren't making any money off of them," she said.

At the festival, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, cards can be used to buy food and drink, as well as merchandise, which Wright said has become a focus since the festival underwent a major re-branding last year. Since it began in 1982, the festival has been a nearly weeklong event with as many as five stages and nearly 100 acts spread over between five and eight days.

It had an unlimited capacity and drew thousands of fans over the several days. This past year, it eliminated the iconic barge stage and reduced the number of days and stages to three. It also cut the number of acts to 24 and capped the crowd size at 15,000.

Wright said fans seemed to appreciate the changes and bought most of the hats, T-shirts and Koozies. She said special 40th anniversary merch, including a gold pin for the folks who remember when a pin was used for admission, will be available June 2 when the gates open.

This year's festival features headliners Maren Morris, Trombone Shorty and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and other performers including Mavis Staples, and Jerry Harrison and Andrian Belew.

"We've really dedicated a lot of time and effort to the merch this year. Last year, we sold all of the lineup T-shirts," Wright said.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.