The 4 Best Summer Festivals in Buena Vista & Salida

A sweet summer weekend might well be summed up something like this: rafting + live music + arts + local brews + incredible food + mountain views = bliss. Luckily, the Arkansas River Valley is filled with weekends that fit this formula perfectly!

Our local calendar is packed with summer festivals. Here’s a sampling of a few of our favorites. Put one on your calendar and check out an Ark Valley festival for yourself!

Campout for the Cause

Buena Vista, June 1-3
This one’s coming up real quick, but tickets are still up for grabs. Who doesn’t love combining sleeping in a tent with music, all while doing it for a good cause? Now in its 10th year, this annual WonderGrass event is based on connection, conversation, passion, sport, music, and inspiration. More than seven bands will gather together to perform for the evolution of human connection while raising funds to support cancer treatments for young Emmy Welle. Learn more about this family-friendly event at campoutforthecause.org, or get tickets here.


Salida, June 14-17
The name means “first in boating on the Arkansas”- need we say more? Hailed as America’s oldest and boldest whitewater festival, this is the best weekend to be on the river in the Ark Valley. Head to Salida to watch world-class kayaking, take in the hilarious hooligan race (grab a seat early!), cheer on the FIBArk Commodore in the parade, join the locals in a race up “S Mountain,” and shake your booty to some top-notch free music performances in the park. This year’s stage will see the likes of the North Mississippi Allstars and The Devon Allman Project. Peruse the entire five-day schedule online at fibark.com.

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Rapids & Grass Beer Fest

Buena Vista, June 29-July 1
There’s something for everyone at this festival: free live bluegrass music on Friday at the Beach Stage, bluegrass and a beer fest with more than 45 craft brewers on Saturday, and a chance to ride the rapids of the Arkansas in the Freedom Ride on Sunday. Rapidgrass, Liver Down the River, We Dream Dawn, and Chain Station are just a few of the bands that’ll be on site. After-parties at the Surf Hotel will feature DJLogic and Leftover Salmon. More info at rgfest.com.

Seven Peaks Festival

Buena Vista, August 31- September 2
New on the lineup this year is Dierks Bentley’s three-day camping and music festival. Word is that Bentley’s been looking for an excuse to return to our fair state. He described Buena Vista as a “godsend” when he discovered it while planning the jamboree, and added, “Denver just doesn’t look like Colorado.” Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne, and Sam Bush join Bentley and a handful of others for the event. Get tickets and a schedule at sevenpeaksfestival.com.

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Keep in mind this is just a handful of the festivals on the books for 2018 in the Ark Valley. Nearly every weekend offers an art, brewing, or music festival somewhere along the river corridor. A calendar of events is available at arkmagazine.net, our local entertainment guide.

No matter what weekend you pick to raft the Arkansas River with American Adventure, you’ll surely find some awesome post-float fun in town!

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