Dragon Boat races re­turn to RiverFest week­end

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - NEWS - BY CHAR­LOTTE L. JA­COB­SON STAFF WRITER

At its in­cep­tion, RiverFest was noth­ing more than a few card ta­bles set up at Kirby Park for a day, with vol­un­teers hop­ing peo­ple would take in­ter­est in the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment.

Twenty-two years later, the event takes over Nes­bitt Park for three days with en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, chil­dren’s ac­tiv­i­ties, river pad­dles, live mu­sic and Dragon Boat races. The 2018 RiverFest kicks off along the Susque­hanna River to­day and con­tin­ues through Sun­day.

“(RiverFest) had an evo­lu­tion,” River­front Parks Com­mit­tee ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor John Ma­day said. “What makes it work is our sup­port­ers, the peo­ple who at­tend and our vol­un­teers. All three of those com­po­nents have to be present in or­der to make it a suc­cess.”

To­day’s ac­tiv­i­ties kick off the week­end, with mu­sic by the Rock­ol­ogy Acad­emy stu­dent bands and A Proud Mon­key, a Dave Matthews Band trib­ute act. South­west Sa­vory Grill, Taste Time To Love Us and Snook’s Wings & Things will be on site for din­ner op­tions, with Man­ning’s Ice Cream avail­able for dessert. Guests can en­joy the com­mu­nity mu­ral paint­ing, the chil­dren’s “Imag­i­na­tion Play­ground” and the Awaken the Dragon and River Bless­ing cer­e­mony.

This year’s event sees the re­turn of the Dragon Boat races. For the past two years, the com­pe­ti­tion took place on a sep­a­rate week­end at the end of the sum­mer. Be­cause of com­pli­ca­tions with ris­ing wa­ter lev­els, va­ca­tion sea­son and other is­sues, or­ga­niz­ers de­cided to lump the races into RiverFest week­end to make for a larger, fam­i­lyfriendly event. Com­peti­tors will race from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sun­day.

The stan­dard RiverFest items re­main on the docket for Satur­day, rang­ing from live mam­mals ex­hi­bi­tions and Wilkes-Barre Fire Depart­ment’s fire safety house to guided na­ture walks and pony rides. Dozens of booths of ed­u­ca­tional and en­vi­ron­men­tal in­for­ma­tion from the River­front Parks Com­mit­tee will fill the en­vi­ron­men­tal tent.

“We want the public to walk away from RiverFest and feel like they’ve learned some­thing,” Ma­day said. “That’s our pri­mary goal. And (we) hope they have a

re­freshed re­spect for the en­vi­ron­ment. We like to ed­u­cate chil­dren, fam­i­lies and have fun.”

AN­DREW KRECH / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Dragon Boat rac­ers pad­dle fu­ri­ously dur­ing the RiverFest Dragon Boat races on the Susque­hanna River in 2014. This year’s RiverFest will be held to­day through Sun­day at Nes­bitt Park.

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