After 17 successful years in Newburyport, one of the region’s largest outdoor events of the summer sails into its new home this weekend.
The Riverfest Seaside Music Festival will take over Gloucester’s waterfront Stage Fort Park on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
A crowd of up to 5,000 people is expected to descend on the nation’s oldest seaport for the free concert presented by 92.5 the River.
Guster headlines the festival, preceded by Noah Kahan, Mt. Joy and Tall Heights — setting the stage for a full afternoon of music from noon to 6 p.m.
Gloucester assumes the music festival’s mantle after what was formerly called the Riverfront Music Festival outgrew its previous home on the Newburyport waterfront.
Donald St. Sauveur, the River’s general manager, said the new venue will offer a great experience for the audience in an expanded seaside setting.
At 9 acres, Stage Fort Park is considerably larger than Newburyport’s 21/2-acre waterfront park and can accommodate a crowd far greater than the 5,000 anticipated, St. Sauveur said. But organizers are keeping crowd projections for Saturday on the lower end given that this is the festival’s inaugural year at the new location.
“We have room for the amount of people we’ve had in the past, plus more,” he said.
St. Sauveur said that organizers are excited for the opportunity to showcase a lineup with strong New England connections. Guster is a perennial favorite of 92.5 the River, which is known for its alternative playlist.
“We’ve always considered the River to be Guster’s hometown radio station and have had the opportunity to showcase their music in a number of different venues,” he said. “We believe Stage Fort Park in Gloucester will be one of the best (festivals) yet.”
While the music festival may be new to Gloucester, the city is no stranger to some of the performers.
Matt Quinn of Mt. Joy has been visiting his aunt and uncle in Gloucester since he was a child. And drummer Brian Rosenworcel of Guster met his wife at a party in Gloucester several years ago.
Guster also filmed part of its music video for “Do You Love Me” in the old Birdseye Building, where the Beauport Hotel now stands. Chad Carlberg, of Gloucester’s Production Blue Co., directed and produced the video, and Gloucester artist Jon Sarkin designed the album’s cover art.
Rosenworcel said that he knows well the streets of Gloucester’s Lanesville and is quite familiar with St. Peter’s Fiesta’s greasy pole competition. Longtime friend Tony Goddess, whom he calls a consummate musician, also hails from Gloucester.
“We have deep roots to Gloucester, and we are huge fans of the area,” Rosenworcel said.
Guster, whose members met at Tufts University in Medford, formed in 1991, and has enjoyed hits in “Satellite,” “Amsterdam,” “What You Call Love,” “Overexcited,” among others.
In January, Guster released its first album in four years, “Look Alive.” The band was part of this past spring’s Boston Calling Music Festival and recently presented and headlined its third annual On the Ocean festival in Portland, Maine.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles-based Mt. Joy had a breakout single in “Silver Lining,” and its song “Astrovan” tallied more than 5 million streams on Spotify.
The band formed “as a rekindling of shared musical ambitions” between high school friends Quinn and Sam Cooper, who reunited in LA, later meeting up with multi-instrumentalist Michael Byrnes. The band recently performed in Montana and is currently recording an album on the West Coast.
Quinn, the band’s singer-songwriter and guitarist, said that he is thrilled to perform in Gloucester.
“Gloucester is such a peaceful place,” said Quinn, a 2013 graduate of Northeastern University in Boston. “I definitely know some people who live there, and with all the travel we do, it’s great when I can land in a familiar place and see people you love.”
Described as an alternative troubadour, Noah Kahan, from Strafford, Vermont, gained attention with his 2018 international hit single, “Hurt Somebody,” which has been streamed more than 200 million times in a year’s time. He released his debut album, “Busyhead,” this summer.
Rounding out the lineup are Paul Wright and Tim Harrington of Tall Heights, who perform at venues around the globe. Tall Heights released its sophomore album, “Pretty Colors for Your Actions,” featuring the River hit “House on Fire” late last year. The duo, which has 130 million streams, tours with groups such as Ben Folds, Cake, Judah & the Lion, and Colony House.
In addition to the music, Saturday’s festival will feature many other activities and attractions. Ten local food trucks will serve up their specialties. There will be a KidZone, with inflatables, face-painting and other activities, while adults can enjoy the two-story Bud Light Build-a-Bar and Tito’s Handmade Vodka pop-up lounge.
With limited parking on-site, concert attendees are being encouraged to take alternative transportation, including the MBTA commuter rail, which has a downtown Gloucester stop within walking distance of the concert venue.
There will be parking available at Gloucester High School, 32 Leslie O. Johnson Road, which is also within walking distance to the concert. In addition, a shuttle bus will run from two satellite parking lots — at Magnolia Woods Recreational Area, 474 Western Ave., and O’Maley Innovation Middle School, 32 Cherry St. Parking at all three locations is $10. Buses depart from the park near the Cupboard parking lot at 41 Hough Ave.
Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken is eager to show festivalgoers what the city has to offer.
“We’re looking for everyone to enjoy themselves and for others to see how beautiful Gloucester is,” she said. “We are thrilled they chose Gloucester.”
IF YOU GO
What: Riverfest Seaside Music Festival
When: Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.
Where: Stage Fort Park, Hough Avenue, Gloucester
How much: Free admission
More information: www.theriverboston.com/attend/riverfest