Savannah's Catfish Derby & Riverfest headlines Jo Dee Messina


Jo Dee Messina

Saturday, music will fill the air of downtown Savannah for the second annual Catfish Derby & Riverfest concert.

“This eagerly awaited event promises a day of pure enjoyment, showcasing an exceptional blend of sensational live music from award winning songwriters and musicians,” said Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau chief Beth Pippin.

The Riverfest Concert on Sept. 9 features seven music performers, including headliner country music artist Jo Dee Messina.

Messina, a Grammy-nominated artist who has had six number one-singles on the Billboard country music charts, said she is looking forward to performing in Savannah.

“I am excited to be able to perform close to home – well, I live in Nashville – so not too far from home, and I know it’s going to be a blast,” she said.

Messina confirms she will be singing her recently released single, “Just to Be Loved,” a song she said has an important message.

“I actually wrote the song after seeing how social media is destroying our youth,” Messina said. “Kids are crying and not understanding their worth because of things they see on social media. Kids start to feel hopeless because maybe they can’t have the things they see posted, or be the people who portray themselves to be perfect online.

“I want them to know that they do not have to change anything about themselves for a like or a follower. People need to know that they were created perfectly by God and that God loves them and they do not need to change for others.”

She also promises to sing her hit song and karaoke favorite, “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”

“It’s awesome that people enjoy the song and it’s amusing when I go to a Nashville Predators game and can hear people signing karaoke to it. It’s great people enjoy the song and I am looking forward to having people sing along with me on Saturday,” she shared.

The Riverfest concert is part of Messina’s national tour, which is also the first time she is touring under the “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” moniker.

“The plan was to have the tour end in California this November, but we may add a second leg to the tour due to requests for more shows,” Messina said.

She added she hopes to share a special message to concert-goers.

“I try to bring the most important message anywhere I am and anywhere I perform, and that is the love of Christ. He made a difference in my heart and is my reason for being and his love is in all that I do,” she said.

In addition to Messina, the concert features Savannah City Manager Blake Walley with Annelise Bess, Savannah native Caleb Kelley, the Garry Nichols Band, Chase Wright and Alexander Kay.

The Band Loula is serving as the concert’s emcee and will perform between sets.

Pippin pointed out that while music serves as the centerpiece of the festival, the Catfish Derby & Riverfest has more to offer.

“Delight your taste buds with an array of mouth-watering culinary creations, ranging from local favorites to delectable delicacies prepared by some of the most popular food vendors around.

“As you indulge in these delectable treats, take a stroll through and visit the unique and fun shops in Savannah, as well as vendor booths with captivating crafts, charming trinkets and treasures,” Pippin suggests.

New to the Riverfest this year is a street dance featuring Just Dance Entertainment of Waynesboro, who will be performing at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Pippin encourages everyone to come downtown and enjoy everything the Derby has to offer.

“The festival atmosphere will be filled with laughter, camaraderie and the collective excitement of those who have eagerly awaited for this event,” she said. “Whether you’re a music enthusiast, a food lover or simply seeking an unforgettable experience, the Catfish Derby & Riverfest guarantees an unparalleled day of fun, enjoyment and cherished memories.”

The Catfish Derby & Riverfest is on Sept. 9 and takes place on Main Street between the intersections of Commerce Street and Guinn Street.

Admission to the vendor booth area is free and set-up begins at 8 a.m.

The Riverfest concert is a ticketed event. Gates open at noon and performances start at 2 p.m. Organizers plan for the event to take place rain or shine. Concert-goers should bring lawn chairs.

Tickets can be purchased online at, or at Savannah City Hall.