Jfest expands as Riverbend announces changes

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – The Riverbend Festival will no longer have Faith and Family night.

A move that happened as the festival is getting shorter.

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“Even before they announced that and we heard that, there had been rumors for years that they were going to scale back Riverbend and if that happened Faith and Family night would be the one that would get the ax among others,” Jfest Festival Director Ted Gocke said.

Gocke booked artists for Faith and Family night.

He’s also the festival director of JFest.



In its 21st year, Jfest is the longest running and largest Christian music festival in the Tennessee Valley.

And without Faith and Family night, he’s encouraging people to attend Jfest as the festival is seeing some changes of its own.

“Last May when we went to Jfest and we saw how are crowd was getting bigger and bigger the venue was kind of shrinking on us a little bit because they were adding playgrounds and swing sets and things in there and just cutting it down, we knew we needed to take it to the next level,” Gocke said.

So taking it to the next level they are.

“This year, we decided, took out a step of faith and decided to enlarge our lineup. We’ve got the biggest lineup ever and also made the move to a bigger venue that could handle that,” Gocke said.

The festival will be at the Tennessee Riverpark.

It will feature two headliners, Lecrae and Matthew West.

The event is slated for May 18th.

Tickets go on sale on Thursday.

As for Faith and Family night, Gocke said they still love friends of the festival and Riverbend and understand the decision, but hate to see it go.

The Bessie Smith Strut has always been connected to the Riverbend Festival.

According to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, there will not be a strut, instead they announced a new event the “Chattanooga Big 9 Roots Festival.”

The free event will be on October 5th.