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Red River Revel
A Red River Revel mosaic dresses up an anchor piling under the Texas Street Bridge in the Red River District.
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Red River Revel
The Revel mosaic depicts scenes from the annual Shreveport festival. It was part of the Adult Art Project done in 1994.
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Red River Revel
A yearly addition to the Revel mosaic created in 1994 by community members participating in the Adult Art Project during the Revel.
The angle of the morning sun makes the rainbow tiles glisten on the large Red River Revel mosaic spread across an anchor piling under the Texas Street Bridge.
The colorful mosaic depicts scenes from the Red River Revel Arts festival, the largest of its kind in Northwest Louisiana, where food, music, culture, visual and performing arts intersect together for eight days each fall. It’s an appropriate metaphor for the festival, which draws crowds of 120,000 to its gates, some 36,000 coming from out of town, according to recent marketing research.
Anyone who’s lived in the community for a while has one’s own mosaic memory of visiting Revels over the past 41 years.
The Revel is a Shreveport-signature event. More than just locals concur with its significance. The Revel ranks in the top 100 Fine Arts Festivals in the U.S. (Sunshine Artist Magazine), the top 100 Events in North America (The American Business Association), the top 20 Events in the Southeast (Southeast Tourism Society), and the Top 10 Events in Louisiana (Top Events USA).
It consistently offers its customers a kaleidoscope experience of the senses.
With three stages for dance and music performances, several long corridors of visual art booths showcasing 110 juried paintings, photography, crafts and jewelry and 18 tents of food vendors for the inquisitive palate, the festival seeks to immerse its visitors in sights, sounds, smells and tastes that are distinctly unique.
The idea for an arts festival was birthed in 1976 by the Shreveport Junior League as part of the bicentennial celebrations. It was a gift to the community as a commemoration.
Revel coordinator Christy Long says today the Revel’s main goal is arts education. “Everything about the Revel revolves around that,” Long said. “Our goal is to bring a variety of art to everyone and make it accessible for all.”
The Revel not only impacts education, the local economy also gets an annual boost. The International Festivals and Events Association estimates the overall impact to be about $11 million annually, which includes hotels and restaurants, with the Revel alone generating 7.1 million. The social impact is felt across socio-economic lines, pulling thousands of volunteers together who contribute nearly 120,000 man-hours to make it happen.
Owner of Shreveport’s The Band House and professional musician Bill Causey says the Revel has a positive impact on the area’s music community. “I’ve probably played every year of the Revel, sometimes in two or three bands during the week. The Revel brings a variety of people out to hear music. You can see in the audience everyone from the guy who can’t pay a cover charge to a bank president,” he said. “For younger musicians, it gives them a place to play and exposure to people to people who may like what they hear. For the bands who have a following, they are bringing more people out to experience what the Revel offers. A lot of people who look for a wedding band may come to hear different bands play at the Revel.”
Causey, who plays with Earshot Graffiti, says he passes out a lot of cards at the Revel. “I know we have gotten jobs from it. It also sometimes gives musicians a chance to work with other musicians they don’t normally play with.”
One high profile success story he recalled was when Kenny Wayne Shepherd played at the Revel before he became well known. “He recorded his Revel performances, edited them and sent them out to record companies, finally obtaining a label,” said Causey.
Contina Pierson who has shown her Bayou Glass Arts jewelry for three years at the Revel says there’s no other show like it. “I don’t see how the Revel can be anything but a positive for the community. It’s good about bringing in local artists as well as outsiders.” Pierson’s business has flourished since she first showed at the Revel. She says the Revel was a part of the stepping stone to her now showing in national catalogues, magazines, and even Sears.com.
“The Revel gave me connections. It is a wonderful place to meet people in the community and I always see repeat customers,” she said.
There are those in the community who have never missed a Revel since it began.
Margaret Bray is one such person. A former Junior League member and now the person in charge of the meat pies, Bray says the value of the Revel is that it touches so many people from so many parts of the community. “When we first started, we had three booths. Now we have participation from a wide cross section of school groups, community members and non- profits all across the city,” she said.
Not unlike a mosaic. So many parts of the whole coming together to create a picture of community success.
For information on performing, volunteering or participating in the Red River Revel of 2017, visit www.redriverrevel.com or call 318.424.4000.
By Datha Hopkins
About Red River Revel 2017:
- Saturday, Sept. 30 to Saturday, Oct. 7.
- 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday.
- 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday & both Saturdays.