Time to Revel Again
What makes this year’s Red River Revel different for Executive Director Logan Lewis is not the dates, the lack of Covid protocols, or even the brand-new poster designed especially for this year’s event.
He wasn’t even born in 1964 when the Rolling Stones recorded a song that sums up what makes 2022’s 46th edition of the Red River Revel Arts Festival special: Time.
Lewis said this year, as the Stones’ lyric says, time is on his side. “We had about 60 days to put the festival together last year. We didn’t really get the green light until late because of Covid. This year, we had the entire year. We were able to open up artist submissions in February and have a full recruiting season. We got the music schedule booked by May to release in June. We have all summer to promote that; that’s a big draw for the Revel.”
He said with only three full-time staff, the hundreds of volunteers who step up to help are the backbone of the event. “Without the help of our board and our festival production committee and a lot of people in the community who have been involved for a long time, these things wouldn’t happen.” Civic entities, police and medical personnel, and numerous vendors make up a long list of people and groups who have a stake in the Revel.
“Coordinating all those pieces does take time,” Lewis said. “It takes a lot of planning and meeting, especially if we’re going to make changes. Obviously, we do have some this year. Those things are part of what we use to promote the festival.”
The three major changes involve a new way to pay for products and services at the festival, the Revel+ outreach to local business and non-profits, and the involvement of other businesses in the downtown area.
Lewis said the Revel is urging attendees to spend time, not only on the festival site, but touring downtown to see the restaurants and venues the district has to offer to get a new appreciation of the area. Part of that effort will include a free shuttle service that the Revel and SportTran have created to ferry festival goers around the area. Details on these changes are spelled out on the Revel website https://redriverrevel.com/
Lewis said there is a lot to be excited about this year at the Revel. “We have changed the layout of the artist area. We had 42 artists last year; we’re getting close to 80 [this year]. We have moved the artists back behind the depot next to the railroad tracks, and we have almost a full row in front of the depot, as well as by Gate Two. There are six total rows of artists’ booths. There’s a lot to see.”
Lewis said the goal is to encourage visitors to wander all over the site to see everything the festival has to offer. “We’ve moved some of the free activities into the children’s area or other spaces. We’re making use of every single piece of real estate that we have.
“On the west side of the depot at the Meet Me area and the Spring Street Bridge, we’ve developed a sort of community experiences area where we’ll have rotating entertainment. The first couple of days we’re going to have an interactive space in partnership with Prize Fest. That space will turn over part of the way through the week and be a photo booth. There’s also going to be an interactive demonstration area in partnership with SciPort. That will turn into an activity called The Song Confessional.”
Lewis described The Song Confessional as a creative collaboration between a musical artist from Austin who will collect anonymous ”confessions” from folks at the Revel. He’ll then take those recorded revelations to some national recording artists, who will pick their favorite to turn into a new song, which they will reveal on a podcast.
Also new this year will be The Balconies, an exclusive area that can be rented which will accommodate 20 people. It offers food and beverages provided by Revel vendors and special additions. “This is an exclusive area where everything is included,” according to Lewis, “and people will have a very nice, tented VIP experience with fans and all the comforts we can give in Festival Plaza.”
The Revel’s new wristbands are a digital addition which makes it possible for visitors to pay for food and items electronically without having to keep track of a bunch of coupons, although those coupons will still be available for Revel traditionalists.
“You're searching for good times But just wait and see … You'll come running back to …” the Red River Revel, Lewis predicts. “Every time you come, there’s going to be something new to experience.”