32nd Annual Portfest Festival


The Bellamy Brothers, John Conlee, Jo Dee Messina and Eddy Raven will be the featured performers during the 32nd Annual Portfest “Rollin’ on the River” Festival on June 7-8. Hosted by the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce, Portfest is held on the banks of the White River at beautiful Jacksonport State Park, three miles north of Newport off Hwy. 69.


John Conlee has achieved a level of success that he has sustained by simply being himself and by making records that the listening public can relate to. He has released 29 singles since the late ‘70s with eight reaching the coveted No. 1 spot on the national country charts. His hit list includes “Back Side of Thirty,” “Rose Colored Glasses,” “Lady Lay Down,” “Friday Night Blues” and “Common Man” to name a few.


For more than 30 years, the Bellamy Brothers have been a picture of consistency in Country music, crafting honest, heartfelt songs that connect with millions of listeners around the world. The Brothers produced more than a dozen chart-topping singles including “Let Your Love Flow,” “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me),” “Sugar Daddy,” “Dancin’ Cowboys,” “Redneck Girl,” “I’m Only In It For The Love,” “Old Hippie” and “Kids of the Baby Boom.”


Tickets for June 7 are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Kids six and under get in free. Arkansas band Riverbilly will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. Conlee performs at 7 p.m. followed by the Bellamy Brothers at 8:30 p.m.


In 1996, Jo Dee Messina gained attention out of the box with “Heads Carolina, Tails California” and “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore,” which were produced by Tim McGraw and Byron Gallimore. Her follow-up album exploded with its back-to-back chart topping singles “Bye Bye,” “I’m Alright,” and “Stand Beside Me.” Additional hits “Burn,” “Lesson in Leavin’,” “Because You Love Me,” “Bring On the Rain,” and My Give A Damn’s Busted” would cement her reputation as one of country’s most loved and endured hit-makers. She won the ACM’s Top New Female Vocalist Award, the CMA Horizon Award and the nod for Most Placed Country Female of 1999 from Billboard.


In 1983 after signing with RCA, Eddy Raven wrote and co-produced his first No. 1 “I Got Mexico,” which was the first in a long line of hits including “Bayou Boys,” “Shine, Shine, Shine,” “I’m Gonna Get You,” “Joe Knows How To Live,” “Til You Cry” and “In A Letter To You.” He has 30 ASCAP songwriting awards, seven No. 1’s, 14 Top 10’s and 22 albums to his credit.


Tickets for June 8 are $10 either in advance or at the gate before 4 p.m.; they will increase to $15 at the gate after 4 p.m. Kids six and under get in free. Music starts at 5:30 p.m. Eddy Raven is set for 7 p.m. followed by Jo Dee Messina at 8:30 p.m. with the fireworks extravaganza ending the show.


Tickets will go on sale by May 1 at outlets throughout the region including Searcy, Batesville, Jonesboro and Newport. Annual Portfest-related activities include a bass fishing tournament, 5K walk and run, a kids fishing derby, two-person golf scramble and horseshoe pitching contest. Portfest welcomes Kenny’s Funland Carnival on June 5-8 at Jacksonport State Park. In addition, attractions for kids of all ages are free with admission on June 8 and include horse rides, inflatables, a petting zoo, trackless train rides, fireworks show and much more.


Don’t forget your blankets and lawn chairs! Coolers are welcome, but there will be a $10 cooler fee at the gate. Free parking. For a complete schedule of events, go to www.portfest.org.