BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With the 2017 RiverFest barely in the rearview mirror, organizers Charles and Jenny Craft are already hard at work building the third, what they say will be the biggest, RiverFest to date. This year’s festival will run Thursday, August 2 through Sunday, August 5.
The RiverFest Committee, made up of local volunteers, has already begun tailoring the 2018 event to fit new opportunities for local and area businesses and organizations to become more involved and has added another marquee event by bringing in the American Dragon Boat Association to the Mississippi River. Teams of 18 paddlers including a drummer and a flag catcher join an ADBA sternsman on a race down a straight line course set on the Mississippi River in Fort Madison’s Riverview Park.
“Dragon boat races could be a very big draw with proceeds from the event going to a charitable organization to be announced later,” Craft said.
The event is sure to bring competitive teams and spectators alike on Saturday, August 4, 2018. It makes for fun and exciting team building opportunities for groups, businesses and organizations. For those wanting more information regarding the Dragon Boat Race or wish to register a team should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Craft said this year’s entertainment will be national acts and is something that everyone will be surprised with.
“The national acts we’re looking at bringing in this year are really going to surprise people. This will be something you surely won’t want to miss,” Craft said.
The RiverFest games will be similar to last year highlighted by the Sand Volleyball tournament, the Bags Tournament and the return of the World Series of Beer Pong with a qualifier taking place at Kinnick South again in 2018.Craft also said this year’s event will accommodate employee and group picnic options for all size companies and organizations and will feature personalized and customized options for those wanting to hold a company picnic or outing as part of the event.
To accommodate the growth of the festival, the committee is adding a third stage for 2018 and will have a new teen music competition on the third stage. The event will feature bands and musicians 18 and under and a competition will be held with voting determined by applause from the crowd.
“We are looking to showcase the musical talents of our area youth that can often go unheard by the general public”, said Shawna Ross, marketing director for RiverFest. “With this addition it is our hope to be able to present our young musicians with opportunities they may not get otherwise, such as personal meet and greets with some of our bands, a chance to play on a stage to a crowd, win prizes, and more”. Those interested in learning more information or wish to enter the competition should contact Shawna at email@example.com.
Craft and commercial vendors and food vendors will be back as will the special attractions like the Motorcycle Stunt show and Pickleball court. There is room for more vendors, those interested in becoming a food vendor should contact Lori Illner at firstname.lastname@example.org and those interested in becoming a craft or commercial vendor should contact Gina Simmons at email@example.com.
A wide variety of opportunities are available for local and area businesses and organizations to get involved in RiverFest 2018 through community partnerships, volunteering, event and area specific sponsorship packages, as well as entertainment and stage presenters; just to name a few.