Living Democracy

Rockin' the River Festival 2017

Rockin' The River sign with the LD fellowsThe 3rd annual Rockin’ the River Festival took place this past weekend in downtown Elba.

The event is always held on the closest Saturday to the 154th day of the year, which is also length of the Pea River in miles that runs through the heart of downtown.

The community came out and enjoyed vendors, good food, live music and the classic Rubber Duck Race.

The other Living Democracy interns, Magnolia Wilson and Whitney Sutton, joined us for the weekend to visit Elba and enjoy the festival Saturday. The Living Democracy crew helped make signs for the event, set up tents for the vendors and even manned the t-shirt booth at the festival.

“Rockin’ the River was fantastic! I really enjoyed the live music, and it was nice to see the community come out and support the festival,” Sutton, visiting from Collinsville, said.

Wilson, the LD student in Thomaston, added, “It was so fun! Elba is a nice town, and I enjoyed visiting.”

Bradley Champan and his birdhousesRestoration 154 started Rockin’ the River Festival to celebrate the Pea River and raise money for community projects.

The 2017 event featured 13 vendors selling homemade items, like jewelry, stain glass art and honey.

Kelly McCracken, from Enterprise, heard about the event from an Elba friend and decided to bring her business, JewelScents, to the festival.  “I really enjoyed coming to Elba and selling my product. It was fun, and the people that came through were very nice,” McCracken said.

Anna Maddox, creator of Pop154, is originally from Elba but has since moved to Jacksonville, Florida. She brought the fruit-based popsicles back home to sell this weekend.  “It’s always fun to bring the pops back to where they were originated,” Maddox said.

Young entrepreneurs joined in the fun by creating their own products to sell. Bradley Chapman, 12, of Brad’s Bird Feeders, said, “I enjoyed building and painting the feeders with my family and selling them with my mom.”

Honey standGia and Guilana Wyrosdick created their own business from 10 live honeybee boxes at their home to create the Two Sisters Honey. They sold quart-sized jars for $8 and pint-sized jars for $15.

Live music also kept the energy going throughout the day.

Kristan Mikala, from Dothan, debuted new songs and sang some classic covers. She was discovered by a local in Elba and has previously performed at the Rabbit Hole.

“Inviting Kristan to come and perform for the crowd just made sense. She’s been here before, and we enjoy her music,” Justin Maddox, entertainment coordinator, said.

All of the artwork from Rockin' the River Art Camp was also on display for the community to see in the Just Folk Coffeehouse on the Square.

Rubber duckies for the raceThe festival finished up with the Rubber Duck race down the Pea River. There were 75 ducks purchased for the race.  The ducks were dropped into the river at Whitewater Bridge, and the race began to see what lucky duck would make it to the finish line first at the boat ramp.

Due to recent rain, the river was up to 6 feet, and it took about 30 minutes for the ducks to reach the boat ramp.  The LD crew went down the river in kayaks following the ducks to make sure none caught up in the tree line.

Three volunteers were in kayaks at the end of the race, anxiously waiting to see which ducks would flow in first.

In the end, Chris Peterson took first place with a prize of $100, Anna Maddox took second with a prize of $75, and Adela Duncan took third with a prize of $50.

The Rockin’ the River Festival is a fun way to raise money to put back into Elba through Restoration 154’s projects, which include The Giving Garden, The Giving Grove, Pea River Outdoors, The Elba Theatre and other projects.

LD girls on the river with kayaks“I am thankful for the sponsors, vendors and the entertainment that made the event possible,” said Laurie Chapman, executive director of Restoration 154.

Mickey Murdock, mayor of Elba, said he was pleased with how the event turned out. “I really enjoyed the music,” he added.

The Restoration 154 team is already looking forward to next year as they think of new ideas to make the festival even better.

By Emily Vick
Last Updated: June 06, 2017