Willie Nelson and Family at Rock the Rapids, Grand Rapids, MI (8/10/11)

www.revuewm.com
by Mallory McKnight

As Rock the Rapids recently confirmed the move to downtown Grand Rapids for the 2011 festivities, it’s now unveiling its 2011 lineup.

The six-day festival will be held in the parking lots to the south of Van Andel Arena beginning August 8, 2011 and will feature performances by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Stone Temple Pilots, Willie Nelson, Alice Cooper, Blake Shelton and Ludacris. The festival has been held at Fifth-Third Ballpark since its founding in 2009.

The agreement between the Downtown Development Authority, the Grand Rapids Parking Services Department and festival organizers finally clears the way for Rock the Rapids to announce their 2011 lineup.

“We couldn’t commit to anyone until we had our agreement completed with the city,” he said.

Rock the Rapids has featured a variety of performers during the past two years including Flo Rida, Sammy Hager, B.o.B. and a fledgling Justin Bieber. More than 20,000 people attended 2010′s festivities. Bringing those kind of numbers from the relatively huge, equipped-for-crowds Fifth-Third Ballpark to the empty parking lots of Van Andel Arena poses challenges to parking, traffic and facilities in the area.

In response to the demands of the move, Baxter’s release announced his plans for construction in the two-days between the lots’ closures and the festival’s opening.

“We look to build a festival village downtown that will certainly become a gathering spot for families and friends looking for fun each August for years to come.”

The plans are ambitious, so Baxter is sounding the alarm for any and all volunteers willing to help the parking lots south of Van Andel make the transformation into the home of Rock the Rapids 2011. The short time frame for construction and demolition is one of the sacrifices Rock the Rapids is willing to make for a more central location.

“We are going to build a village in two days (the Saturday and Sunday before the concert series) and then tear it down in one day on Sunday after the concerts,” Baxter said.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the construction, demolition or helping out during the festival can call 616-808-7625 or register online at rocktherapids.org. Rock the Rapids is a non-profit corporation, which aims to funnel the money raised from the festival back into Grand Rapids community cultural events and organizations.

“(The festival) will take its place among the many other community events that help make Grand Rapids a truly unique and special place to live,” Baxter said.

This year not only brings a move downtown, but lower ticket prices. Advance tickets for a single show are $29, while two-day ticket packages are $39 and a week-long ticket is $79 (a value of $13.17 per show). All tickets are general admission and go on sale June 3 at 9 a.m. through Star Tickets, all Meijer locations or Rock the Rapids’ website.

Manager of Rock the Rapids and president of Blue Cap Promotions, Denny Baxter, says the move represents a step forward in recognizing the festival’s larger ambition to grow and provide Grand Rapids with affordable access to national acts in a festival setting.

“It is our intention that Rock the Rapids will be recognized as Grand Rapids’ original music festival,” he said in a press release.

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