News Column

RiverFest celebrates whitewater anniversary with Dragon Boat Festival, live music, more

May 9, 2014

By Adam Carlson, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

May 09--The whitewater course is turning 1.

Uptown Columbus is throwing a party, of sorts: the two-day RiverFest -- not to be confused with the longtime Historic Columbus event -- brings together many summer staples in one weekend.

The dragon boat races are back and the Scout Expo is joining them. So is On the Border and the Sidewalk Arts Festival.

Attendance for both days is free.

Seating for all events will be available along the RiverWalk and RiverWalk Island. You should bring your own blankets and chairs.

Coolers and outside alcohol will not be permitted. Attendees can purchase alcohol with the purchase of a $2 wristband each day.

The idea of RiverFest evolved naturally, Uptown officials said.

"We had a weekend where we had the potential to do some kind of festival and so we just took the opportunity and ran with that," said Elizabeth Hurst, vice president of community relations and marketing.

Bringing in tribute bands On the Border and Live at the Fillmore, both frequent guests during the summer concert series, was another easy decision.

"We wanted to replicate (the outdoor concert experience) and just move it and have a bigger party. ... Everybody knows an Allman Brothers song," Hurst said. "Everybody knows an Eagles' song."

RiverFest will also include food vendors -- and food trucks -- as well as arts and crafts vendors, a children's area complete with "water walker" and kayak races.

The Scout Expo, a Mother's Day fixture, will include 40 booths with hands-on activities such as Tomahawk throwing.

May 10 is also the anniversary of the Civil War Ironclads shooting the rapids, back in the 19th century.

To commemorate that, the National Civil War Naval Museum will shoot two replica Ironclads down the rapids Saturday morning.

(Uptown will join the effort with replicas of their own, made from rafts.)

The weekend's centerpiece is the Dragon Boat Festival, which returns for a second year.

Hurst said that 36 teams will compete -- and many of the races are intentionally competitive, matching up W.C. Bradley against The Woodruff Company, for example; or military teams The Sledgehammer Brigade and Rock of the Marne.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson's Municipal Mandarin Mariners will race Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe's God's Country just before 11 a.m., according to the race schedule.

Both teams are expected to be made up of the cities' employees.

"This is going to be a must-see event," Lowe said. "The fact that we are able to come together and compete for the good of these communities speaks volume, and I am elated to be a part of it."


Dragon Boat Festival

-- Behind the Trade Center and Coca-Cola Space Science Center

-- Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Friday -- Woodruff Park

-- 6 p.m.: Third annual bike ride with Mayor Tomlinson

-- 7:30-10 p.m.: On the Border -- The Ultimate Eagles Tribute Band

Saturday -- Woodruff Park -- 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Scout Expo (all-ages and open to the public)

-- 9 a.m.-3 p.m.: Sidewalk Arts Festival

-- 10 a.m.-noon: Live music featuring Aces & 8s

-- 1 p.m.-3 p.m.: Live music featuring Fellas & the Vine

-- 6:30 p.m.: Dragon Boat and Sidewalk Art Festival awards ceremony

-- 7 p.m.-8 p.m.: Live music featuring Kent DuChaine

-- 8 p.m.-10:30 p.m.: Live music featuring Live at the Fillmore: the definitive tribute to the original Allman Brothers Band

Saturday -- RiverWalk Island

-- 10 a.m.: Whitewater Ironclads

-- Noon-2 p.m.: Live music featuring The Traveling Mercies

-- 2 p.m.-4 p.m.: Kaya demonstrations feautring kayaking champion Hunter Katich

-- 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Live music featuring Shoeless Sundays

-- 4:30 p.m.: Boater Cross and King of the Wave competitions, with cash prizes

-- 6 p.m.-9 p.m.: Uptown Drum Circle

More info:

Reporter Mike Owen contributed to this story


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Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA)

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