Reboot of Bluegrass, Bourbon & Brews brings national acts

Posted 3/15/22

Bacon Bash to undergo overhaul RIVER FALLS – Two major River Falls’ events are getting reboots in 2022, which the River Falls Chamber of Commerce hopes will draw more visitors to the city on the …

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Reboot of Bluegrass, Bourbon & Brews brings national acts


Bacon Bash to undergo overhaul

RIVER FALLS – Two major River Falls’ events are getting reboots in 2022, which the River Falls Chamber of Commerce hopes will draw more visitors to the city on the Kinni. Expect to see changes to the upcoming Bluegrass, Bourbon & Brews and September’s Bacon Bash.

Chamber Director Russ Korpela presented the plans to the River Falls City Council Tuesday, March 8, and asked for the city’s support of 2022 chamber events, which they granted.

Last year, the chamber received a $25,000 Department of Tourism grant, which was used to promote the development of a digital passport to encourage users to explore craft beverage producers and specialty retail stores throughout River Falls. The grant allowed the chamber to leverage $10,000 in local resources to conduct a digital marketing campaign, which generated more than 1.6 million visitor impressions inviting Twin Cities residents to River Falls.

After the successful implementation of that campaign,


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the chamber applied for and received a second $25,000 grant from the same pool, said Korpela. The money will be used to fund a similar campaign to reboot Bluegrass, Bourbon & Brews, the former Roots & Bluegrass Festival. The two-day event will be held April 22-23, a little later in April than it used to be pre-Covid.

“You may recall this festival got plagued by snowstorms and our hope is by being a little later in April, we minimize the possibility, although not eliminate, of having a snowstorm,” Korpela said.

The festival will feature 25 bands across nine venues, such as Johnnie’s, the American Legion, Tarnation Tavern, Junior’s, Shooter’s and Tattersall Distilling, among others. Korpela credits the possibility of a reboot to Tattersall, which has a large enough venue to host national acts, including Them Coulee Boys, The Dead Horses and Pert Near Sandstone.

The grant is allowing the chamber to increase its marketing budget seven-fold, from $3,500 to $27,000, using social media and targeted marketing ads.

“If you go to any one of 25 different live music events across the Twin Cities, your phone knows it, we know it and we’ll start delivering music ads to you about how much fun Bluegrass, Bourbon & Brews will be,” Korpela said.

The chamber is hoping to sell 750 tickets. Since the schedule of events launched March 8, 125 tickets had sold by that evening.

For more information on the festival, which will include beer, wine and bourbon tastings, visit Bacon Bash is getting a similar reboot to BBB. Korpela said he anticipates applying for a special event grant that would be used in 2023 and 2024.

“This year our goal is to get our food truck numbers back up to pre-Covid numbers,” Korpela said.

Another goal is to find a way to cook large amounts of bacon strips in order to offer “bacon flights,” giving festival goers the chance to try several types of bacon, such as cherrywood, applewood, pepper, etc. Staff are also exploring hosting a smoker show, where people could learn about the many types of pellet smokers and grills on the market.

Schedule-wise, two changes should be noted. First, instead of a Saturday-Sunday event, Bacon Bash will be a Friday night-Saturday event. Korpela said in the past, it was tough to attract a good crowd on Sunday during the Packer game, especially when they played the Vikings. Second, Bacon Bash will be held one week later in September in hopes that the weather won’t be as steamy hot.

RF Days

The River Falls Days Friday night parade will return this year as a traditional parade. Last year, the chamber chose to hold a reverse parade as a safety precaution against Covid. Instead of people lining the streets to watch a parade, the parade “floats” were stationary and the people flowed between them. Some people loved it; others not so much.

“Last year’s reverse parade, after considerable online criticism, actually turned out to be much more popular than people expected,” Korpela said. “In fact, it was popular with some businesses and nonprofits who benefited from having the opportunity to talk one-on-one.”

While the traditional parade will make a comeback, expect a sort of Meet River Falls expo Saturday afternoon where businesses and nonprofits can be featured.

Live music will be featured at the street dance each night with a 10-10:30 p.m. closing time. A Journey tribute band will take the stage Thursday, followed by Hitchville on Friday and a classic rock band on Saturday night. The closing time reduces security concerns and provides downtown bars and restaurants with a latenight surge of business, Korpela said.

CAB partnership

The chamber will also be partnering with the River Falls Community Arts Base this summer to bring two larger mid-week summer concert series performances to town. These will feature bands that typically draw bigger crowds than can be accommodated at the Veterans Park bandshell, Korpela said.

While details on the performances are forthcoming, they will be family-friendly and hopefully bring more people to the city mid-week.

For more information on upcoming chamber events, visit

Bacon Bash