Van Tilbury

Executive Director

Riverfest Inc.

Little Rock


Van Tilbury

Believe it or not, Van Tilbury, executive director of Riverfest, is busy planning next year’s festival.

He’s not taken long to bask in the soggy success of Riverfest 2000. Though rain fell on part of the festival, the nonprofit organization still raised a record amount of money in sponsorships, more than $300,000.

Tilbury, 32, took over as executive director of Riverfest Inc. in August 1996, and he’s since doubled the size of the 23-year-old event.

The festival, which takes place each year at Little Rock’s Riverfront Park, is among the top 25 percent of festivals nationwide.

At Riverfest, he manages two part-time staff members and reports to a 25-member board. He makes traffic plans, coordinates promotion and contracts with food vendors, visual artists and performance groups. Tilbury also recruits about 1,200 volunteers for the May festival.

Tilbury said he heeds the advice a mentor gave him long ago.

“As long as it passes the three-part test of being legal, ethical and moral, then you can do it. And that’s the question,” he said. “When I get in a situation when I’m not sure how to handle it, I give it the three-part test, and if it passes the test, then I feel pretty comfortable about it.”