After a year off, one of the world’s largest Beatles tribute festivals is coming back to Jeffersonville this weekend.
Abbey Road on the River features dozens of Beatles’ cover bands from around the world. The lineup also includes popular bands from the 1960s and ‘70s, with Jefferson Starship among the headliners. This year’s festivities will also feature tributes to George Harrison for the 20th anniversary of his death.
“There’s definitely a lot of excitement in the air,” said AROTR founder Gary Jacob. “We’re talking about musicians, many of whom haven’t been on stage in 18 months. This is going to be some of their first gigs back.”
The festival was canceled last year due to COVID-19. The coronavirus also prompted Jacob to postpone this year’s festival to Labor Day weekend, a few months after its usual Memorial Day timing. Organizers hosted the scaled-back Penny Lane in the Park in May instead.
To keep guests safe this year amid a rise in cases from the delta variant, attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter Big Four Station Park.
“We don’t care what people are going to say to us about this,” Jacob said. “This is what has to be, and it’s why you’re seeing it with all these businesses, with all these sporting facilities. Everybody’s making the move, because it’s the only way to keep people healthy.”
About 15,000 people are expected to attend Abbey Road, down from the 20,000 seen in years past.
“We don’t want to be shut down again,” Jacob said. “We’re willing to have less people come through the doors as long as we can keep the people who come through the doors healthy. And if it takes another year, then it’ll take another year.”
Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said he’s excited for the festival to return. The city had a successful run of concerts at the RiverStage this year, and Moore hopes to see that replicated at Big Four Station Park this weekend.
Moore said he supports Jacob’s decision to require vaccines or negative tests.
“I’m going to take every precaution the doctors, the science and the CDC tell me,” Moore said. “I’m not an expert on the coronavirus, therefore I’m going to take the advice of the others that I do respect. If they say, ‘Get a vaccine and wear a mask if you’re indoors,’ golly, I’m going to do it.”
Abbey Road on the River starts Thursday and ends Monday. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 80s for much of the weekend, with some rain possible on Sunday.