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Let’s build on the Riverfest success story

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The sun shone on Limerick city over the May Bank Holiday weekend. Tens on thousands of people celebrated the glorious weather and made their way into Limerick city centre to experience Riverfest, the official festival in our city’s calendar year.

Speaking on Limerick’s Live 95fm recently, Laura Ryan from Limerick City and County Council said that “Limerick now owns the May Bank Holiday weekend”. She is right.

In recent weeks I have lamented the fact that our city centre is failing from a footfall perspective. What Riverfest weekend proved is that the people are there.

To see our streets packed with people was a welcome reminder of the potential our city has should the plans we have in place to successful fruition in time.

Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

Riverfest has not been the most perfect of festivals over recent years. The festival drew many critics when the majority of its offerings were no where near the river in the not too distant past.

Credit where credit is due. Over the past three years there has been a marked improvement in the Riverfest offer. The most important addition has been the fact that the festival now truly embraces the river. It is, after all, a ‘Fest’ that celebrates the ‘river’.

Teamwork is important. In the case of Riverfest there is a team of stakeholders all playing their part to ensure Limerick sells itself with pride on the May Bank Holiday weekend.

The festival is led by Limerick City and County Council who, along with Grooveyard (their appointed events team), ensure that the 4-day festival flows logistically. They deserve great credit.

You then have John Cleary and his team at the Great Limerick Run. This event must be one of the great success stories in recent Limerick history. The event that the GLR team have managed to build year on year is phenomenal and plays a massive part in the Riverfest experience.

The partnering of Shannon Heritage with Dolans to deliver the Live at King John’s Castle experience is another addition that must be noted. This event allows our city to celebrate its finest asset through the medium of music. Thousands of people witnessed the sun set on our city as Bell X1 took to the stage and fireworks filled the city’s skies.

Picture: Sean Curtin True Media.

In recent years we have seen a renewed focus on making the most of the River Shannon as a usable asset. We have seen the addition of Get West and Nevsail, two local outdoor pursuits businesses who are overcoming the challenges of bring activity to the river that forms the heart of our Sporting city.

Get West, Nevsail and the recent addition of the Swimmable Limerick team have brought a new energy to the Riverfest experience, allowing so many of our citizens to experience the city from the perspective of the Shannon for the first time.

As an experience, Riverfest has gone from strength to strength over the past number of years. What I hope happens now is that the organising team immediately conduct of critical review of last weekend’s festivities.

To consistently improve we must acknowledge the elements that really work. We must identify the things that could be better. We must consistently strive to add to the Riverfest festivities to ensure the Riverfest brand continues to stand out.

Part of that critical review must take into account the views of the end user. The organising team must find some way of engaging openly with the many different demographics who availed of the Riverfest experience in differing ways.

Laura Ryan was correct to say that Limerick owns the May Bank Holiday weekend. We must not sit on our laurels, however. We must continue to strive to make Riverfest even better. Perhaps a stakeholder meeting with all those who played their part recently might be a good start?

Congrats to everyone who did their bit to help Limerick shine this year and roll on Riverfest 2019.

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