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47th Annual Red River Revel Starts Strong

Red River Revel

The 2023 edition of the Red River Revel Arts Festival in downtown Shreveport is off to a strong start.

The 47th annual Red River Revel Arts Festival is now well underway in downtown Shreveport. And organizers say this 9-day event is off to a strong start. The revel attracted 61,000 visitors last year and this year is expected to be no different… especially with good weather anticipated over the next week. The festival has been a mainstay for Shreveport-Bossier since 1976, with its signature variety of music, art and food that makes it one of the top 100 fine arts festivals in the United States. Executive Director Logan Lewis explains that this variety is what sets it apart from other events. “(It) Allows us to do is have variable programming. So, there’s lots of things for people to experience throughout the week. Vendors change out halfway through. We have different music every night, different children’s activities every day. So, there’s just a lot of variety that gets put into it.”

Red River Revel

Lewis says the revel delivers the third largest economic impact of the year for tourist events in the Ark-La-Tex, right behind Mardi Gras and the Independence Bowl, with 89 percent of the money spent on the revel done so in northwest Louisiana and east Texas. “One of the things I’ve always felt like is that Shreveport doesn’t pay enough attention to East Texas. That they forget they see all of our TV stations hear all of our radio shows. And so, I have intentionally tried to book artists, musicians especially, that hail from the East Texas area, whether it’s, you know, like tonight we had Lance Lopez, last year we had Neal McCoy. And that’s something I feel is important to incorporate because they are part of our community, just the same as anybody else in the Red River Revel.”
Artist submissions come from the entire region, and are juried by an independent group of art collectors, curators and staff members of art organizations over a six month time period, with works in everything from wood and watercolor, to photography and pottery to ceramics, sculpture, glass, jewelry and much more. “It’s actually judged. So, an artist that is in our show is not just simply in it,” says Lewis. “They apply. They have to go through a process of blind judges who look at all the art, score it and then they’re invited based on the number of available spots and the scores that they get and so it ensures it is a very high-quality festival.”

Red River Revel

One of the vendors is Derek Simmons. He and his wife own Caddo Brothers, a Shreveport boutique specializing in high end felt hats. And he explains the appeal that the revel has for small business owners like himself. “The revel has now gone to an extent to where like true brick-n-mortars want to shut down their brick-n-mortar for a temporary time to come pop up at the revel because of the response that it’s gotten and the perfect example of it.”
The Red River Revel Arts Festival opens daily at 11:00 a.m. And closes at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday through Wednesday and 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The children’s area closes at 8:00 p.m. And art alley closes one hour before the festival closes each day. Admission is free before 5:00 p.m. On weekdays and $5 after 5:00 p.m., or on weekends. The revel runs through Sunday, October 8.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, and a graduate of the University of Washington, Jeff began his on-air broadcasting career 33 years ago in the Black Hills of South Dakota as a general assignment reporter.