About Us. RiverArtsFest 2016 is a three-day* celebration of the visual and performing and culinary arts with attractions and activities appropriate for all ages.

RiverArtsFest 2016 will host a 170+ Juried Artist Market, along with Artist in Motion, Hands on Art and other festival offerings including community art events, great live music and tasty Southern food, Friday-Sunday, October 21*, 22 & 23. A successor to Arts-in-the-Park, RiverArtsFest is in its seventh year located in the heart of the Historic South Main Arts District in Downtown Memphis, TN. This area is an ideal location since it is easily accessible from major streets and expressways and is home to many of the city’s finest galleries and restaurants with lots of free parking to be found.

*Friday evening, October 21th is a FREE special RiverArtsFest preview event where some artists will be available to showcase their pieces. This evening coincides with South Main’s traditional Trolley Night. A ticketed RAF Fundraiser Preview Party is also held that evening. More to come…

Our festival has successfully presented rich cultural artistic diversity and talent from the Mid-South and over 40 states, in what’s become the longest running fine arts festival in this region. Our Juried Artist Market attracted more than 85,000 patrons last year with comments of “excellent examples of artistic creativity” and “great diversity in a high caliber of artists.”

River Arts Fest 2016 will Feature:
• A Juried Artist Market featuring 170+ gallery quality artists in an open air setting.
• An Invitational Show held off-site in a centrally located gallery space.
• Live Musical Entertainment featuring 50 acts across three stages!
• Culinary Delights from all around the globe in three food courts throughout the festival.
• Live street performances daily throughout the festival grounds
• Entertainment and Attractions for all ages. Child and family friendly entertainment.
• Artists at Work demonstrating new and innovative artistic techniques while interacting with the public!
• Hands On Art is a hands on attraction for kids of all ages which encourages the young at heart to explore their creative energies at interactive art stations.
• 2016 Festival Artist will be announced soon and the official 2016 RAF poster will be unveiled in late May 2016. Make sure to pick up an official festival poster which will be available for sale at any of our merchandise booths.

Our Mission:

“Our mission is to cultivate, promote, encourage and develop public appreciation and support of the visual, performing, literary and culinary arts for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the citizens of Memphis and surrounding communities in the Mid South.”

Our Purpose

In fulfillment of our mission statement the RiverArtsFest organization seeks to produce an annual event located in the heart of our Downtown Arts District. This annual festival which is open to the public features a juried exhibition in fine art, youth art show, artists market, live entertainment, culinary delights from downtown restaurants, and children’s art activities.

Our History

In 1984, Arts in the Park began in Overton Park as a program of Art Today, an organization of the Brooks Museum under the leadership of Richard Wilson Sr.  The objective was to bring together the visual and performing arts for a weekend of dance, music, sculpture, song, paintings, fine eating and participation; a fine arts exhibition.  The success of the program led to the formation of a 501(c)3 corporation which came to be the Memphis Arts Festival.  In 2003, the name was changed to Experience Art in Memphis to reflect an expanded mission to include literary and culinary arts.  The invitation is to experience the art, to understand how it came to be, to enjoy all aspects of its creation, and to celebrate its existence.  Since 1984, Memphis Arts Festival, through Arts in the Park, RiverArtsFest and related events has involved over 1,000,000 citizens of the community in all its programs.

General Information

The mission of RiverArtsFest organization is to create access to a broad array of arts experiences; nurture the development and understanding of diverse art forms; and encourage the expanding depth of cultural life in the City of Memphis. RiverArtsFest is a two-day outdoor celebration of the visual, performing and culinary arts. The festival offers a juried artist market, artist demonstration areas, educational activities for children and adults, live musical performances, and high-quality outdoor food vending.

Police and fire officials estimated last year’s attendance at approximately 85,000 attendees for the two-day event. The growth from our first year to this last year has almost doubled. A professional marketing firm manages a strategically focused plan to attract a diverse public likely to be interested in the visual fine arts. While the majority of our audience is from the Memphis metropolitan area, a significant and increasing number of art patrons from around the Mid-South also attend.

RiverArtsFest, Inc. is recognized by the IRS and State of Tennessee as a tax exempt art services organization under IRS Code section 501(c)(3). All proceeds are used to produce RiverArtsFest and to support other artistic, non-profit activities in this region.

RiverArtsFest is an organization which brings together two significant forces involved in promoting public involvement in the visual and performing arts, RiverArtsFest, Inc. and the South Main Association. Our steering committee is comprised of individuals from both organizations along with former board members of Arts in the Park. While we come from diverse backgrounds we all share a genuine desire to promote an appreciation of the Arts by the citizens of our community.

Presenting Sponsor


Friday, October 21
• FREE Rockin’ River Arts Show • 6-10p
• RAF Preview Party • 6-8p • $30

Saturday, October 22 • 10a-6p
• Admission: $5, kids 10 & under FREE

Sunday, October 23 • 10a-5p
• Admission: $5, kids 10 & under FREE