When we made the decision to move to Chattanooga, we knew about Head of the Hootch (a huge rowing event here in the fall) and we thought that was THE big event in Chattanooga.  However, it turns out Riverbend is THE big event here.

Just by chance, we completely missed Riverbend last year.  Our visit to pick a place to live was in March.  Our visit to make it official was in July.  Riverbend happens in June.

Riverbend, is a 9-day music festival that, this year, features 6 stages and something around 100 bands.  Supposedly, 600,000 people will descend upon Chattanooga (population 300,000) for this event.

The first sign that Riverbend was coming was the arrival of a stage via barge.  It was floated up the Tennessee River and parked for a couple of weeks in front of the Aquarium.  Eventually it was raised onto a huge dock (we always wondered why that dock was so big) where it had quietly remained for at least a week before the opening of the festival.

During that final week, tents started appearing followed by rides.  Soon, the riverfront looked like an abandoned carnival.  Billboards all over town advertised “get your pin at such and such place.”  Pins were $32 for entry all 9 days.  Of course, “entry” doesn’t include the lawn in front of the main stage (another $10), a program (yet $35 more), or seats anywhere.

Had we know pins at the gate would be $45, we would have bought our pins early.  We, of course, didn’t discover this until after the discounted pins were no longer available.

Finally, opening night came.  It was Friday night, June 8th.  We expected to hear the bands playing from our place, but they were drowned out by traffic noise on this side of the river.

Instead, the start of the festival was announced to us by a ridiculous amount of noise on the roof over our heads.  Some of our neighbors had apparently invited a large group of friends over to hang out on the roof deck; we’re pretty sure they spent the night.

I went up to the roof top to check out who was up there and to see what kind of shots I could get from the roof.  I left my 100-400mm lens at home since I figured I was going to need my faster 70-200mm lens in the twilight over the extra length.

Alas, the scene was far enough away that I couldn’t get very interesting shots of any details.  Plus, I couldn’t see the river from our roof, which was full of boats listening to the music.

I turned to the sunset briefly (reminding myself that I have too many shots of the sunset and it wasn’t that interesting) and then returned to shoot the skyline wide.  Sine the sky was completely uninteresting that direction, I cropped those shots to panoramic proportions.  I probably should have just put my camera away instead.