(Bike and Music Fests promise full day of fun) 

Lazaro Aleman
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Saturday, April 9, is shaping up to be a big day locally, with complementary, simultaneous festivals scheduled. The first, the 2nd annual Monticello Bike Fest, kicks off at 7 a.m. Saturday and lasts until about 6 p.m., while the second, the 9th annual Southern Music Rising Music Festival, begins at 10 a.m. and goes on until midnight. The Monticello-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce is sponsor of the Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.44.05 PMbike fest, which is geared for both the leisure and the hardcore bicyclist, with multiple rides available. The possible rides range from the 10-mile family outing (children 12 and older and accompanied by an adult), to the 30-mile half-metric ride, the 60-mile metric ride, and the 100-mile century endurance test. Except for the family ride, which is a flat $10, the fees for the other rides vary, depending on when the registration is made. Through Sunday, March 27, the fees for the three longer rides are $55 each. Through Friday, April 8, the fees are $60 each. And on the day of the event, the fees are $70 each. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Katrina Richardson is heading the effort. Richardson says the expectation is for the event to draw upwards of 250 bicyclists, a significant increase over the 136 who participated last year. “It’s an aggressive goal,” Richardson says of the 250, but it’s one that she believes is doable, given the level of publicity that the Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.44.11 PMevent will be receiving. The plan, Richardson says, is to advertise the festival via print, radio, television and digital media, as well as through word-of-mouth among the various cycling clubs in the region and surrounding states. Last year, according to Richardson, participants came from as far as Atlanta, GA, Mobile, AL, and Miami, FL, and the expectation is that it will be the same or better this year. For more information on the bike festival, call Richardson at (850) 997-5552 or visit The Southern Music Rising Festival, meanwhile, is celebrating its 9th year, and its sponsors are boasting it will be the best ever. Kicking off at 10 a.m. Saturday, the event will feature musicians at three venues around the downtown area. The three are the historic Monticello Opera House, the John Denham House and Tupelo’s Bakery, all within easy walking distance of each other. The lineup for the all-day festival includes Mimi and the Hearn Dogs, Belmont and Jones, Highway 238, Chris Henry and the Hardcore Grass, Gypsy Darlings and The Full Moon Bandits, and Cosmic Swamp, to name a few. The highlight of the day will be the evening concert by Bill Sheffield and The New 76ers on the upstairs stage of the Opera House, followed by an after party in the Opera House’s garden stage, featuring the Allie Cats. Sheffield is an Atlanta-based Georgia musician who plays a collection of original, as well as folk, roots and blues music that brings to mind, according to one critic, “the genius of John Hurt, Hank Williams and Muddy Waters.” Sheffield has been the opening act for the likes of Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, B.B. King and Bonnie Raitt, among others. The trio The New 76ers, meanwhile, plays a mix of acoustic folk, Americana, and soul roots or grassroots. Jason Dehart, a writer for Tallahassee Magazine, describes group’s music as accessible, back-to-the-basics and not easily pegged into any type of genre. “They draw inspiration from all different kinds of American roots music, including folk, country, blues and even some rock ‘n’ roll,” Dehart writes. Finally, the Allie Cats, featuring Allie McKay, perform what is described as a mix of “chick rock/pop/country from Alanis Morrisette to Taylor Swift to Melissa Etheridge to Stevie Nicks”, as well as originals. Tickets for Saturday’s music festival are $15 for the daytime show pass (10:00 am to 5:00 pm) and $15 for the nighttime show (7 to 10 p.m.). The cost of pass to all shows is $25. Children under age 12 get in free. Lunch is available for an additional cost. For more information on the music festival, call Clifford Miller at (850) 464-2819 or visit