Southern Indiana

One of the world’s largest Beatles tribute festivals is marking a milestone this year.

It’s the 20th anniversary of Abbey Road on the River, which celebrates the music of the Beatles and other classic rock legends at Jeffersonville’s Big Four Station Park. 

“Our audience has remained faithful to the Beatles and faithful to our festival,” founder Gary Jacob said. “We’ve put on a great festival every year. We don’t change it too much. People know what they can count on. We keep it affordable, we keep it fun.”

AROTR started in Cleveland in 2002 and moved to Louisville in 2005. It’s been held in Jeffersonville since 2017.

The event was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Organizers implemented vaccine and testing requirements last year.

Jacob said those restrictions won’t be in place this year — a move he expects many festivals to make.

“You’re going to start seeing that all coming down with everybody,” he said. “We feel that right now the way things are, unless the numbers start to go up again, that we are not going to enforce a vaccination or testing protocol or masks.”

This year’s five-day festival will be held over Memorial Day weekend. Headliners include Tommy James & the Shondells, the Fab Four and the Cyrkle. Tickets are on sale now.

Jacob never expected to be able to put on AROTR for so long. But he said the Beatles have only grown in popularity since the festival started, and he hopes that will continue into the future.

“When we hit our 10th anniversary, I didn’t know that it would keep going another 10 years, I really didn’t,” he said. “Now, to me, how much longer is it going to go? Maybe it’ll go for another 75 years. The Beatles are not going to ever go out of fashion.”

AROTR will coincide with the 20th anniversary of Forecastle Festival the same weekend, which takes place directly across the Ohio River in Louisville.

John Boyle is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. John’s coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, Community Foundation of Southern Indiana and Samtec, Inc.

John Boyle is a reporter and editor at WFPL news focused on Southern Indiana. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.