Legion Park was filled with food trucks, vendor booths and families Saturday to celebrate Loudon’s ninth annual Riverfest.
Attendees perused the many booths to explore, foods to try and entertainment to watch while counting down for the fireworks show that began after dark.
For many, Riverfest served as an opportunity to get in touch with other community members, which was vital for up-and-coming businesses.
“We decided this like two months ago that we were going to start a business and sell slime because we like slime a lot, so we were like, ‘We’re going to wait until another event comes up,’ because we were going to ask to set up a booth,” Sophia Eller, co-owner of Infinity Slime, said. “So we asked our parents and they both said yeah, so we went and bought all the stuff and started making slime.”
The booth received attention as the evening went on and the crowd grew.
“It’s pretty good,” Eller said. “At first, we started out a little slow, but then it started speeding up.”
Loudon resident Tammy Gallaher said Riverfest was a way to see all the inner-workings of the community come together.
“This is our first time,” she said. “It’s good. They like the water slides. … The food’s good, the music’s good. It’s good. It brings a lot of local people in.”
Mark Harrell, Loudon Parks and Recreation Department director, believed the community gathering was the biggest yet.
“This is probably the biggest one we’ve had so far as far as crowds and having this many people here this early,” Harrell said. “The cars, especially. That (is) probably three times the number of cars compared to what we’ve had in the past, so that’s a good thing.”
Harrell anticipated 4,000 people would attend Saturday.
The growing amount of attendees was not the only expansion. A surplus of food trucks and vendors were also hopeful to be part of the summer wind-down.
“We have 25 (food vendors),” Harrell said. “We cut them off. We had an offer of 10 or 12 more, and we cut them off last week because 25 is our max. We don’t want too many. Total vendors were 82. We cut them off as well. Probably 10 didn’t make it for obvious reasons. As you can see, that’s about all we can handle. We’re pretty full.”
Beyond the activities offered for families, such as water slides, train rides, horse carriage rides and the fireworks show, Harrell said the true hope of Riverfest was to draw people together.
“With all the issues and things going on in the world today, look how happy everyone is,” he said. “We have a ton of free things to do. Horse and buggy rides, train rides, music. It’s an opportunity for people to get out and come to a free event when they normally can’t afford to do things like this.”