BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Plans continue to take shape for the 2017 RiverFest being held Aug. 3-6 at Riverview Park in Fort Madison.
A committee, headed by Charles and Jenny Craft of Fort Madison, is bringing the event back again for a second run after a successful event in 2016.
Craft has already signed a national entertainer in country recording artist Buddy Jewell and is upgrading the stage to a fully integrated hydraulic performance stage from Thunder and Lightning productions and has brought in a top-notch light-and-sound person for the main stage shows.
“He’s one of the best around, you won’t want to miss this.”
“We’re really just doubling our efforts this year,” Charles Craft said. “This year a lot of great people have stepped forward and we think we have a really good community event in the works,” he said. “We’ve come up with some signature events and it will continue to grow year to year. There’s something here for everybody.”
The event website is up and running at www.riverfestfm.com. Registrations can be made and e-tickets can be purchased online that can be scanned at different performances throughout the four-day festival.
Fort Madison’s own Shawn Moss, who covers Garth Brooks nationally, will perform after Jewell. Moss performs under the stage name Shawn Gerhard, but will use his real name for this homecoming event.
Craft said the committee is really focusing on the games this year and Doug and Shanna Krogmeier are committee chairs for the games again this year.
“I got in the ground floor of this,” Krogmeier said. “We had a good year last year, but we’ve added some things this year and we’re going to keep growing this until we max out.” he said.
Krogmeier said all games have registrations that are currently open at www.riverfestfm.com under the Games link at the top. Krogmeier said people should register early online to save time the day of the event and registering is very simple through the website. He also said the tournaments are 100% payback. Craft said the committee wants to pay back everything to generate interest in the games portion of the 4-day week. Participants must complete a RiverFest Sports Participant Waiver, which can also be printed online and brought the day of the events. Most events are rain or shine and there is room to pitch tents on the grounds.
“We would love for everyone to register early. We shut it off a week before the games are held,” he said.
The 5K Run/Walk will take place on Aug. 5 at 8 a.m. with registration open now through July 26. Registration for the run is $25 through July 26th and $35 after that til race day. Packet pickup is at Riverview Park next to the shelter house on Friday, Aug. 4th between 6 and 8 p.m. and on the day of race between 6:45 and 7:30 a.m.
The volleyball tournament is also set for Saturday the 5th. Registration is open now and ends July 28th. Online registration is $50 for each team of six and closes July 28. The cost moves to $60 if you register your team the day of the event and that registration starts at 8:30 a.m. with games starting at 9 a.m. All ages and skill levels are welcome to participate in the double elimination tournament. Matches will be best of three with payouts going to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. The co-ed tournament is limited to the first 24 teams and each team is only allowed three males on the court at any given time. Anyone under 18 must have a signed permission form.
Bags, or cornhole, are also back this year. Krogmeier said last year they had a very good turnout, but he’s hoping to double it this year.
“We’re hoping to keep growing these events until they are maxed out,” he said.
Bags online registration also ends on July 28 with a $20 fee for each team of two. The fee increases to $30 for registration the day of the event, which begins at 9 a.m., with games starting at 9:30. The double-elimination tournament is limited to the first 64 teams and will be the best of three. All ages can play, again with a 100% payout to the top three teams and teams can be any combination of male and/or female players.
Kan Jam, a new edition to the lineup this year, is a game of discs thrown at a scoring “Kan” and the player on each side can hit the disc one time to alter the flight path toward the scoring slots in the can. Online registration also ends July 28 with a $20 fee for each team of two. Day of registration fee is $30 and begins at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 5. Games start at noon and are two players any combination of male/female in a double elimination format. Match length will depend on the number of teams registered.
“This is a really exciting game because you are engaged the whole time on each end. I love this game, and if I wasn’t coordinating the games, I’d be out there playing,” Krogmeier said.
Other events include a Kayak/Canoe float and a pickleball demonstration venue sponsored by Onix Pickleball, a national manufacturer of pickleball equipment.
Krogmeier said this year parking will be a little closer than the marina so that should make it easier for participants. He also said no outside alcohol is allowed on the grounds, but other drinks and snacks are permitted.
“We have a liquor license so we have to check the coolers,” he said.
This year’s fundraising event will be to help veterans in the area make the American Legion Honor Flight program. There will be a Sunday breakfast fundraiser, similar to 2016, where Craft said he hopes to have some veterans at the breakfast to meet and greet people with all the proceeds going to help offset costs of the flight to Washington D.C.
Thursday night will also feature a 3-hour wristband event where festival-goers can ride unlimited rides for three hours for one price. Connor Amusements out of Beardstown will present the carnival rides again this year.
Craft said there will also be a pre-festival event this year with some of the games out at the Baxter Sports Complex and another event at the Irish Pub in Burlington.
“We’re gonna have some live music and some fun and games and try to rev up for the festival this year,” Craft said.
Other musical acts scheduled for the tournament include local favorites Cap’n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters and The Ozone Ramblers, and Bluzillion, a Chicago-style blues band. Craft announced Monday that Keokuk-based UGSTR, will be getting back together for a show at the festival on Saturday as well.
Stay up to date with Pen City Current and www.RiverFest.com for additions to this year’s event.