A crowd comparable in size to what the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) brought to the Glenwood community last summer is expected when the Mid-America Motorplex hosts the ninth annual River Riot concert on Friday, May 11.
The concert, staged annually by The River 89.7 radio station at Iowa Western Community College, will feature the music of five nationally-known alternative rock bands – Incubus, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Emphatic and After The Fall.
More than 18,000 people are expected to attend the concert, according to radio station’s program director and general manager Sophia John. In past years, the concert has taken place at the Westfair grounds near Council Bluffs, but growing crowds have created a need for a larger venue, according to John.
“We needed more room,” John said. “We wanted to give more people the opportunity (to attend) and we wanted to create a bigger event. The Mid-America Motorplex is our best option.”
Weezer, 311 and Blink 182 are three of the popular bands that have performed at some of the previous River Riot concerts.
While River Riot typically attracts a primary audience in the 18-35 age demographic, John said organizers are hoping to make the concert a family-oriented event this year with a “festival” atmosphere that will attract a “more mainstream” audience. In addition to the music, John said concert goers will be able to enjoy rides, games, inflatables and a fireworks display.
Concessions will be available and free water will be distributed, she said.
“The day of the event, safety is my No. 1 priority,” John said.
John said she couldn’t say definitely if beer or alcoholic beverages would be sold at the concert, but confirmed that a liquor license has been applied for.
Mills County Sheriff Eugene Goos said members of the Mills County Board of Supervisors have been in discussions with concert promoters concerning the liquor license application and some specific issues concerning the license are still being resolved.
Goos said to his knowledge the concert will be the first time a single event of this magnitude will have taken place in Mills County. The size of the crowd and the confined location will create a variety of traffic and public safety challenges, Goos said. Motor vehicle access to the motorplex is limited at this time to one road - 190th Street. Jesup Ave., which runs west from the city of Pacific Junction to 190th Street is currently closed due to bridge work, which may or may not be completed by May 11. Goos was scheduled to meet this week with officials from the Iowa State Patrol to discuss a plan for traffic control on Interstate 29, Highway 34 and county roads in the area for the day of the concert.
“Yes, it’s going to be a challenge. We still have some road closures down there,” Goos said. “General public safety down there is going to be our major concern.”
Ensuring public safety will require the sheriff's office and state patrol to bring in extra deputies and troopers on the day of the event, Goos said. Concert promoters will be required to pay for the added law enforcement. Private security guards will be hired to handle the crowd inside the grounds of the motorplex.
The concert will begin at 4 p.m. and is expected to run well into the late-night hours.