NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - Both Mother Nature and the cost of finding entertainment has allowed Newport chamber officials to change its yearly Portfest Festival to an entertainment series from April through September.
The plan calls for the entertainment series to be held at the new park in Downtown Newport, with events already set for 22 out of the 26 weeks from April until September. In addition to concerts, there will also be movies in the park as well as a fireworks show on July 3 among other things.
There will also be "Bluesday Tuesday" concerts and a Depot Days Festival this year.
Julie Allen, who serves as director for the chamber, said the decision to change the event was difficult but needed.
"Portfest has been a staple in Newport and Jackson County for 35 years, and this decision was not made without great consideration and serious discussions by festival directors and the Chamber board," Allen said.
As for the weather, Allen said it has created problems in the past several years with the event being canceled in 2011, 2014 and 2015; while river flooding forced festival officials to move the event to downtown Newport in 2017.
Allen said the costs of performers' fees and general expenses have gone up in recent years as well.
"Acts that previously cost $20,000 ten years ago are now asking $50,000 to $75,000 per act. It is hard to justify higher ticket prices to cover costs while offering the same festival experience," Allen said.
Allen noted that event sponsors have been supportive of the plan and have given their support.
"Their support will allow all events in the series to be free to the public," Allen said.
The first event will be held April 7 with music, fireworks and the dedication of the Terry Scoggins Memorial Stage, Allen said.