Using the good old fashioned eyeball test to estimate crowds has never been one of my strong suits, so I’m just going to go with the Sports Backers/Venture Richmond number: 100,000. That’s how many people the dual organizers of Dominion Riverrock said attended the festival from Friday evening to Sunday evening. I was there everyday, and I don’t doubt that number. Two years ago, the last time the weather was great, Sports Backers estimated crowds in excess of 65,000. This time the throngs felt larger, especially for the headliner bands — The Infamous Stringdusters and Matisyahu.
The raging river drew huge numbers of people who wanted to see kayakers and SUPers race in the 15-foot James. Bouldering and the adjacent slackline areas were packed. The dog jumping was as popular as ever. The new event — Red Bull Berm Burners — always had a crowd around its dirt track. Freestyle bikes was its usual sick self. If I had one quibble — and, frankly, I overheard this quibble from many festival goers — it was the beer selection. In a city losing its mind over craft beer, a city with Legend, Hardywood, COTU, Strangeways, Ardent, Isley, Triple Crossing, Lickinghole and probably some brewerys I don’t know about yet, how is it possible that the only beers you could drink at Riverrock were Miller Lite, Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy? Just seemed strange. This is a showcase of what makes us different than any other American city. Richmond beers should have been there.
Again, that’s a small quibble, and an easily rightable one. Riverrock showcased the James and our riverfront beautifully. The weather helped. So did the crazy-talented athletes. The SBs and Venture Richmond pulled it off again. Can’t wait for next year.