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Don Sharp, left, and Mensur Ramic share a laugh while prepping a VIP area for Riverbend at Ross's Landing on Friday, June 1, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Sharp is with Friend's of the Festival and Ramic is with Chattanooga Tent Company.
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Don Sharp, with Friend's of the Festival, looks over photos of previous setups while prepping a VIP area for Riverbend at Ross's Landing on Friday, June 1, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Where to catch the shuttle

› Finley Stadium, 1826 Carter St.

› Chattanooga Choo Choo, 1400 Market St.

› Warehouse Row, 1110 Market St.

› Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter St.

› EPB Main Office, 10 W. M.L. King Blvd.

› Union Square Garage, 110 W. 11th St.

› AAA Parking Garage, 611 Chestnut St.

› 613 Broad St. Parking Garage

› 289 W. 6th St. Garage

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Riverbend attendees will have several new options, including more VIP choices and a spa, for seating this year.

The city's largest annual festival opens Friday and, as usual, there will be about 100 performers on five stages throughout the eight-day event, but now there are more options for where and how you choose to watch the shows, especially the main acts on the Coke Stage.

For the first time, fans can opt for the Starview Landing, which includes better access to the Coke Stage, exclusive options to purchase food and cocktails, portable restrooms and parking passes. Prices vary per night, but are around $20-$25 in addition to an admission wristband.

The Starview Landing Premier Package includes admission and passes for this area for all eight days for $238. Nightly passes are available for various prices.

Also new is Fan Stands, which enhances the blanket-seating concept by offering additional vendor options and a cash bar, as well as a prime view of the Coke Stage entertainment.

"We've added more seating, drink options, food options and assigned seating so you can move around," said Friends of the Festival Executive Director Chip Baker.

"The TVFCU Stage will be a cool place, literally, as we've added a cool zone [misting area]."

Festival marketing director Amy Morrow said the changes are all about "enhancing the fan experience."

"We wanted to give fans more options and ways to enjoy the whole evening."

While all of those options are available, at an extra cost, you can also win one of the nightly packages allowing you and nine of your friends to watch from the Michael Phelps Swim Spa VIP Experience that will be in front of the Coke Stage each night. The promotion is being done in conjunction with Entercom Chattanooga, and its local radio stations US101, Rock105, KissFM, The Lake and Real 96.1. You can register to win on their web pages.

Headlining the festival in order of appearance will be Hank Williams Jr., The Wallflowers, Luke Combs, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram (Bessie Smith Strut), Switchfoot, Dustin Lynch, Flo Rida, Third Eye Blind and Bret Michaels.

Patrons this year also will have the option of parking at one of seven nearby locations and riding a shuttle to the Riverfront festival location.

Shuttle rides will cost $1 per ride per person and will be available from 4 p.m.-12:15 a.m. each day of the festival except Monday, June 11, when everything moves to M.L. King Boulevard for the Bessie Smith Strut.

The shuttle will drop off patrons at the Marina Gate located on Riverfront Parkway west of the Olgiati Bridge. All other ride services should use the horseshoe entrance of the Tennessee Aquarium at Broad Street and Aquarium Way to drop off passengers, Morrow said.

The festival tries to make at least three big enhancements each year, and in addition to the new seating and parking options, Riverbend has found ways to honor military personnel, Baker said. Wedenesday night is Military Appreciation night. Dustin Lynch is the headliner and the Navy Band will precede his performance. There will also be a swearing-in ceremony on the Coke Stage that evening.

The Bessie Smith Strut on Monday, June 11, will again be a gated and ticketed event. Admission is $10 or $5 with a Riverbend wristband.

General Admission wristbands allow admission to the festival for each night of the festival. Children 10 and under are admitted free with an adult. General Admission wristbands for Family Night on Tuesday, June 12, can purchased that night only for $10.

Wristbands are available at at Food City locations and Harry's Convenience Stores for $44 until midnight June 7, and will be available at all gates for $60 each once the festival begins June 8.

One-night wristbands are sold each night at the main gate for $30.

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

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