Chattanooga Seafood Bash On The River Returns April 26-28 With New Procedures

  • Thursday, February 15, 2024
  • Gail Perry

The Chattanooga Seafood Bash on the River put on by the Hykos Temple #123 Shriners will be returning this year April 26-28 at Coolidge Park. Last year it drew 77,000 people over three days and is expected to exceed that number in 2024. The number of people that attended was a surprise to Robin Roberts, the event promoter and to the Shriners, she told the Chattanooga Beer Board Thursday morning when she and John P. Franklin, Jr. applied for a temporary beer permit for the second year of the event.

She told the board that with the unexpected crowds last year came problems. Steps have been taken this year to correct those. Last year, she said there was a traffic jam lasting two and a half hours at one location. This year traffic patterns will be changed to efficiently get people in and out of the area, and there will also be shuttles to drop people off right at the event. River Street will be closed and surrounding parking garages and lots will be utilized and traffic will have one way in and one way out of those spaces.

Although there was only a single incidence involving security personnel last year, when a man passed out and was taken to his hotel, police and EMS will be stepped up this year. And this year there will be more vendors, live music all three days, a kid’s zone and plenty of fresh seafood that will be trucked in.

Other activities associated with the Seafood Bash on the River will be a breakfast held at Walker Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday, Bingo on the River on Saturday, “Paint and Sip” at Walker Pavilion and a show featuring a hypnotist. Admission to the festival is free but there are charges for the other surrounding activities. And Prestige Cars has donated a car to be raffled off.

Security will include 20-plus officers from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office each day, six EMS personnel will be on-site at all times, and the Chattanooga Fire Department will have a presence. There will be stations set up to scan and approve IDs where wristbands will be given- a different one for each day. The ID scans provide the organizers with zip codes that are shared with Chattanooga Tourism which is providing a grant to help sponsor the event.

The success of the Seafood Bash on the River last year surprised and overwhelmed the organizers, said Ms. Roberts. As an example, she said, was that there had been on 40-foot dumpster at the site. That had to be emptied 10 times, and that was not enough. When it was all over on Sunday night, she said cans were overflowing and trash was knee deep. She, along with volunteers, started picking it up into the middle of the night, but it still required for the city to continue the cleanup the following day. So this year the whole festival is going green. Budweiser, which is supplying the beer, has an arrangement with NewTerra. All disposable materials will be compostable this year, including the beer cups. There will be three composting stations and each food vendor will have a garbage can to use. With the efforts to create less waste, there will only need to be a one-yard-long dumpster, said Ms. Roberts. “We want to set the standard.”

Ms. Roberts also organizes similar seafood festivals in other cities including Knoxville and Aiken, S.C., and she told the beer board that the event in Chattanooga last year was number one as far as promoting tourism and filling hotels.

All the money raised during the weekend will benefit the Ronald McDonald House, for which the organizers expect to raise $20,000 this year.

Another event will be returning to the Chattanooga Green Parkway, at 201 Riverfront Parkway, for the third year. “Rock the Riverfront” put on by River City Corp. is an interactive art exhibit that will be taking place every day from March 14 through April 14. There will also be music, art vendors, food trucks and other miscellaneous things taking place in the park each day. It is a family-oriented event but beer will be available in designated areas. The board gave unanimous approval for a temporary beer permit to Dawn Hjelseth on behalf of River City Corp.

Amuse Um:1995, The Creative Discovery Museum’s annual fundraiser, will be held March 2 at the museum at 321 Chestnut St. from 6-10 p.m. Both the Hamilton County Sheriffs Office and River City Security will be present for security. Once people have been ID’d and given wristbands, Hutton and Smith beer will be served from three different bars set up in the building.

A new beer license was approved for Bar Watson, 6925 Shallowford Road, unit 202. The restaurant has a new owner which requires it to get a new beer permit, which was approved unanimously without discussion.

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