DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – After nearly 30 years, with a one-year break due to COVID-19, Decatur’s Riverfest is no more. The sponsor group, Mosaic Mentoring, cited a number of reasons they were forced to make the tough decision.
Mosaic Mentoring’s CEO Leah Brown told News 19 that Riverfest cost them about $10,000 each year, for electricity alone, much of that, powering the entertainment.
“It got to the point where we were paying out of that stuff more than we were bringing in,” Brown said. “We couldn’t justify [it], because we are a nonprofit agency, we have to be good stewards of the money that is given to us, and Riverfest was not allowing us to do that.”
Mosaic inherited the music and barbeque festival from the Decatur Jaycees five years ago. Even then, Brown said the event was struggling to get people through the doors; however, Mosaic hoped to revive it as their Fall Fundraiser.
She credited great sponsors for footing the bill for much of the entertainment, but she said it became tougher to get big-name headliners as attendance dropped. This dip impacted the money they were able to keep after paying dues not taken up by sponsors.
“The people coming in buying the tickets are where we are generating our money and it got to where the public was not that supportive of coming in,” Brown said.
Last year, they only sold 200 tickets out of their 700-ticket goal. After this, she said they had to have a tough conversation.
“We were all just heartbroken. We thought that this was going to be the comeback year because it was the year after COVID and everything but it just did not turn out that way,” Brown said. “We knew on the last day last year that this was it.”
Brown said they’re not leaving all of Riverfest behind though. They’re taking what worked best, the barbecue competition, and creating an entirely new event in the same location of Ingalls Harbor.
“I am so excited to announce, right here, it’s Sizzling and Smoking!”
In addition to a brand new Kids-Que cooking contest, the “Sizzling” comes with an SCA Steak Cookoff Friday, and the “Smoking,” a four-meat Kansas City BBQ Society Competition Saturday.
“It’s not going to be anything like Riverfest as far as entertainment and that kind of stuff, but we’re still going with the component that was profitable for us, and that’s the whole thing with having a fundraiser. It’s got to be profitable,” Brown said.
The inaugural Sizzling and Smoking fundraising event is set to take place on September 23rd and 24th, later this year.
If anyone is interested in continuing Riverfest, Brown said she would be happy to take a meeting with them, but she wants to be completely transparent about the costs that went into putting on an event like RiverFest.