Tens of thousand of people will head to IPFW to enjoy the third annual RiverFest on Saturday. The river-centric event quickly has become one the most anticipated events each summer. But residents shouldnt let the party – and it is a great party – distract them from the larger purpose of RiverFest, which is to celebrate the rivers and remember the importance of protecting the citys greatest natural resource.
The whole point is to focus on our rivers and to rediscover our rivers, said Irene Walters, executive director of university relations at IPFW and director of RiverFest. There are more water activities this year.
RiverFest visitors will see the return of the most popular events. They will also see a heightened emphasis on providing information about not only how to protect and preserve the water quality of the rivers but also how to better take advantage of recreational opportunities the rivers offer.
For over two decades we did a heinous job of turning people off to our rivers, said Dan Wire, chairman of Friends of the Rivers and a RiverFest volunteer. RiverFest is a great counterbalance to all of the negative information out there.
Wire said there will be four information stations scattered throughout RiverFest. Each of the tents will be staffed by local experts who can offer information and answer questions. Visitors will be able to learn about the many groups that are working to protect the rivers, including the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District, St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative, the Allen County Partnership for Water Quality, the Upper Maumee River Partnership and the St. Marys River Watershed Project.
Festival attendees will also be able to learn more about how they can safely use the rivers for recreation. Representatives from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will talk about fishing and which fish are safe to eat. And representatives from the Fort Wayne Sail and Power Squadron will talk about boater safety and offer tips for navigating the rivers.
Were planning on filling people up with information until they are overflowing and then sending them on their way, Wire said.
A new educational event for children will be a huge hay maze. In order to successfully navigate the maze, visitors have to correctly answer river-related questions. A wrong answer sends you toward a dead end in the maze.
Wire said there will also be eight pontoon boats providing rides this year. Last year three pontoon boats gave rides to more than 1,300 people. Hopefully, there will be less of a wait this year, he said. The rides last about 15 minutes, and each pontoon pilot will have information about the rivers.
What a great educational opportunity. They can read it, they can hear about it or they can do it, said Wire, a longtime teacher with FWCS. Were hitting all three learning styles.