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Ottawa plans to bring music and food back to Riverfest

Plans in the works to offer free festival entry again

The Taste of Ottawa will return to the city's 2020 Riverfest event. City officials also announced live music performances will come back to the festival this year.
The Taste of Ottawa will return to the city's 2020 Riverfest event. City officials also announced live music performances will come back to the festival this year.

Ottawa’s Riverfest music and Taste of Ottawa events are back on the city’s calendar for 2020.

Commissioner Wayne Eichelkraut made the announcement after the city approved early contracts for the event at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

He’ll be sharing the duties of preparing the event with Commissioner Marla Rodriguez, businessman Larry Johnson and Special Events Coordinator Heidi Eisert.

“We’re going to bring it back. We think we’re capable of doing it, and it’ll be a great success,” Eichelkraut said. “We’re looking at some good bands and I think everybody’s going to enjoy it.”

The city scaled back their Riverfest offerings in 2019 to nix the music lineups and Taste of Ottawa. The city began exploring alternative ideas for the festival after the 2018 Riverfest, which cost the city $42,000, a majority of which came from the Taste of Ottawa.

Eichelkraut said some of the changes they plan on making compared to recent years are making the event free to attend again, increasing the number of food options, reducing the cost of drinks and searching for “big name” bands.

He said to media after the meeting a few bands already have been locked down such as Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts, son of Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, and rock band BoDeans based out of Wisconsin.

Eichelkraut said the festivities will cost around $160,000 and will be funded from hotel and motel tax money as well as money made during the festival’s food sales and through donations.

He said he’s served on the Riverfest committee since 1987 except for the most recent five years and with the exception of Rodriguez, who’s new to the event’s organization, they believe they can recreate the success of prior events.

“I think it’s a good idea to bring it back and let’s give it a shot and see what we can do,” Eichelkraut said. “We’re the old crew, we’re not a new crew. We’re someone who’s done it before.”

“I think things are going to work out in our favor and people are going to enjoy it as they’ll see the list of bands we got and they’re going to say, ‘Hey, let’s give it a try,’ ” he added.

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