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Trevor Shaw and Kathryn Hill dance around as Seven Handle Circus performs at Riverbend on Sunday. Shaw and Hill have gone to several Seven Handle Circus concerts in Atlanta and Chattanooga.
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Buddy Guy performs with his band on the Coke Stage at Riverbend on Sunday.

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For three decades, getting into the music, crowd and food fest that is the Riverbend Festival required a colorful little pin.

Not this year. Organizers abandoned the admission pin, opting instead for a wristband that will allow them to track attendance better. The wristbands also are more cost effective and easier to identify.

One festival fan on Sunday night pined for the pin.

"I have collected pins since day one. They should have at least had them as a collectors' item even if they used the wristbands for admission," said 51-year-old Becky Arrowsmith, of Hixson.

Arrowsmith was one of thousands of people headed to the riverfront for a night of guitar good times with Buddy Guy and a variety of other musical acts.

As festival attendees prepared to enter the festival grounds, volunteers waved scanners back and forth, up and down over visitors' arms and waited for the "beep" that registered admission.

Sometimes it took a bit of waving to get the machines to work.

"I think the buttons are better," said volunteer Diana Paniagua Paz, of Dalton, Ga. "The scanners are harder to use."

Festival volunteer Linda Bartmess said waving the temperamental machines sometimes gets tedious.

"My hand is super tired, but it's not that bad," she said.

Crowds at the festival entrance were nowhere near as large as in previous years.

Even though it seems as if there are fewer people attending, the festival probably will make the same amount of money because the wristbands will cut down on the number of people who get into the festival without paying anything, said Leah Gravitz, a patron from Chickamauga. People wearing pins could take them off and pass them to others outside the gate.

Dawn Legg, of Rossville, said the wristbands are better because they don't get lost as easily. She said her pin fell off one year.

Chip Baker, executive director of Friends of the Festival, said all in all, the opening weekend was a success, even with new elements such as the wristbands.

"Change can be difficult," he said, "but overall I am pleased."

Contact staff writer at or 423-757-6431.