Dragon Boat races return to RiverFest weekend
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.”
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.