UNLV’s Rebfest united local talents and students once again

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Mistie Ragle and Christopher J. Edwards with host of the Morning Blend Jessica Rosado and Elliot Bambrough. Photo courtesy of Christopher J. Edwards.

“Rebfest is an annual free event filled with live music, games, food, vendors, and sponsors,” said Christopher J. Edwards, the MC/Host of Rebfest 2024. 

Organized by UNLV’s The Rebel HD2, which was voted as “best new radio station” by Las Vegas Weekly in 2017, Rebfest Music & Arts Festival has been bringing together many UNLV students and local artists who love music and entertainment in a yearly day-long festival since 2016.

The seventh of the festival, Rebfest 2024, took place for free at the Student Union Courtyard on March 28 and once again filled the UNLV campus with music and festival vibes. Students enjoyed food, drinks, interactive games and live music throughout the festival, which began at 2 p.m. and lasted until 9 p.m.

Mistie Ragle, the vice president of The Rebel HD2 and primary lead for Rebfest, explained the origin of the festival as follows, “Rebfest has been going on since 2016. It’s organized and put on by The Rebel HD2, the student-run UNLV college radio station. The radio station wanted to host a music festival on campus for students, faculty and the surrounding community.”

The lineup of performers at Rebfest 2024 included R&B artist J. Brown, Thrive, Divine Nine (D9), Keezy, Bradleigh, Thee Goddess, Rae Milli, Lil Tapz and HaleAmano and The Rebel DJs Kelly J, Course Control and Bolim. Sin City Dance Academy kicked off the event with an opening dance performance.

Edwards, who has been hosting the festival for the past two years, commented on the changes in the festival over the years, saying, “The biggest changes and developments I’ve seen is in the diversity of the lineup of music and talent. Last year 2023, the live music was more hip-hop based, but this year we had reggae, rock n roll, R&B and female MCs. We also had members of the UNLV Divine 9 Sororities and Fraternities graced the stage to give the audience a step show and display of not only entertainment but culture. It was so incredible to have a lineup where everyone could connect in their own unique way that also featured some of UNLV’s very own talent like Bradleigh who is a senior studying jazz and contemporary vocal performance.”

He shared that the initial reaction of students attending the festival for the first time was confusion because they found it difficult to believe that such a big event was free. “However, once inside and welcomed, the students love it.”

As an MC/Host of the festival, he explained that he loves engaging with students in many ways. “I will dance with them, encourage them to participate and invite them to celebrate all the artistry happening on and off stage.”

Rebfest 2024 was filled with many unforgettable moments for both artists and students. When asked about what stood out as the highlight of this year’s festival, Edwards responded, “The Las Vegas born and raised high school band, Thrive. They are four friends that started this cover band to share their love of rock n roll, and they are really good. The lead singer, Christopher Convery, is also an actor who played young Billy on Stranger Things, and they really got the crowd young and old alike hyped up.” 

He also added, “Another memorable moment this year was when the artists MotiveKnows and our headliner JBrown brought their performances offstage and went into the audience to engage and connect with the students. This really excited the students and allowed for a different type of experience and engagement. These students aren’t too familiar with these artists, both MotiveKnows and JBrown are not from Las Vegas, but I’m pretty sure they now have a fan base here after RebFest.”

Ragle drew attention to the significant effort and organization behind the scenes of Rebfest, “The most memorable part of Rebfest for me was seeing all of the months of planning and coordinating come to life as well as seeing students and attendees enjoying themselves.”

Speaking about the reason why Rebfest is a special festival, Edwards emphasized the success of the college’s radio station and stated, “It is hosted by the number one college station in Nevada, the Rebel HD2, which means that these students are working outside of class and study time to put together this great event together.”

“I think what makes Rebfest such a special festival is the love and appreciation of the local arts, entertainment and community. It is a grassroots love project that seeks to give not only the students but the community a space to enjoy the arts without the hassle of paying hundreds of dollars, waiting in massive lines and/or having the fear of large crowds. Everything is free, and everyone is welcome,” he continued.

The Rebfest 2024 concluded with the participation of many, and it will continue to be a bridge between local artists and UNLV students next year.Detailed information about the festival is available at rebfest.com

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