Reggae on the River, the biggest, most international and arguably most fun festival of the year in the United State is almost here. Starting this Thursday, July 30, and running through Aug. 2, the 31st anniversary of Reggae On The River will grace the banks of the meandering South Fork Eel River at French’s Camp, ten miles south of Garberville here in beautiful Northern California.
“Reggae” the longest-running reggae/world music festival in the U.S.— and the only one in the world known simply as Reggae — is a testament to a music that speaks to our common humanity and our needs for freedom, justice and “One Love” for all.
The annual pilgrimage to Southern Humboldt that thousands of reggae and world music lovers have been making every summer for more than three decades has begun. Hotel and campgrounds are steadily filling up. Visit the reggaeontheriver.com website for RV, tent and car camping options and the Garberville/Redway Area Chamber of Commerce for hotel and motel accommodations.
Camping is included with all weekend pass tickets and is first-come-first-served in terms of placement. There is still RV space at the Richardson Grove RV Park directly across the street from the festival site and roll-ins will be accepted as available. French’s Camp RV spots are full.
Three and four-day tickets are still available at Cornerstone Reggae Culture Shop in Sebastopol; It Takes Two to Tangle in Laytonville; The Last Record Store in Santa Rosa; Main Street Music in Willits; People’s Records in Arcata; Redway Liquor in Redway; Redwood Music Mart in Eureka; SHC in Garberville; The Works in Eureka; Eureka Natural Foods in Eureka; Mateel Community Center Office in Redway; and Wildberries in Arcata.
For those with a four-day pass, admission begins on Thursday, July 30, and includes first dibs on camping and an extra evening of entertainment to include King Jammys, Fortunate Youth, Mr. Williamz, HIRIE, Pyrx Band, IrieFuse, Iya Terra, and other high energy acts.
The three-day ticket allows access to the grounds on Friday, July 31, and highlights an epic schedule to kick off the main event with performances by Cham, Protoje & The Indiggnation, Collie Buddz, Katchafire, Stick Figure, Inna Vision, and Juce.
New this year, in a limited amount, is the ambassador pass that comes with unprecedented perks, including access to the stage left viewing stand, the ambassador cocktail lounge, ambassador concert seating, private porta-potties in the lounge, and an ROTR coupon book. Ten percent of this ticket supports global charities related to reggae culture, including two Jamaican nonprofits, the Alpha Boys Institute and Lil Raggamuffins Summer Camp.
Single day tickets will be available for $90 at the gate for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, but are not available for Thursday.
Camping and on-site parking are not included with single day tickets, so single day ticket buyers should ride the shuttle from town or park in the day use lot in Benbow and ride the shuttle in. Shuttles run approximately every half hour and there are more shuttles this year.
Saturday’s massive line-up features Stephen “Ragga” Marley, Tarrus Riley & Blak Soil, Ce’Cile, Ghetto Youths International featuring Jo Mersa, Christopher Ellis, Black-Am-I, & Wayne Marshall; Emmanuel Jal, Alerta Kamarada, Aaradhna, and Lior Ben-Hur.
On Sunday, Aug. 2, the positive vibes keep rolling in with the worldly ambassadors. Alborosie & The Shengen Clan, Nahko and Medicine For The People, The Congos, Exco Levi, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, Empress Unification, and Reggae Angels will perform for a great final day.
Reggae will also feature top DJs and sound systems, the ever-lively KidLandia, and the camping, community, and irie vibes that made Reggae On The River famous. There are more than 60 vending or nonprofit booths, and each of Reggae’s food booths are either partnered with a nonprofit or run by a nonprofit. Some of the nonprofits benefitting this year will be Heart of the Redwoods Community Hospice, Fire Departments, Beginnings, Eel River Clean-Up Project, and Veterans For Peace.
Several improvements have been added to the festival this year including faster and more regular trash collecting, new permanent open air showers, more dust control, a free inner-festival shuttle, more shade, and more pedi-cabs. People are encouraged to bring their own water in gallon containers since drought is an issue this year and we are conserving. Good things to bring are non-toxic biodegradable sunscreen, sunglasses, summer hat, and jackets for the evenings. The increase in shuttles will lessen wait times.