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RiverFest set for new spot at IPFW

Events include cardboard boat regatta, mud run

– Impending construction and closings on IPFW’s campus will not be a concern for this year’s RiverFest, which plans to cover more of the campus’s landscape than ever before.

The festival, set for June 22, will relocate to IPFW’s north campus area, behind Ernest E. Williams Theatre and next to the SCAN Children’s Garden, officials announced Tuesday. IPFW plans to close its East Coliseum Boulevard entrance for summer construction starting Monday, which would cut off the direct path to the RiverFest activities and Ron Venderly Family Bridge. RiverFest traffic will enter from campus entrances on Crescent Avenue and St. Joe Road.

The Coliseum entrance is expected to be open before the start of fall semester in late August.

“We have sort of explored this area, and it has become one of those things where you make lemonade out of lemons,” said Dan Wire of Fort Wayne Friends of the River. “It would have been very clumsy to try and hold it in the same place; it just made more sense.”

The new location allows RiverFest to cover more ground than it has in its previous years for FamilyFest, ArtFest, FoodFest and live music areas along the banks of the St. Joseph River. River activities such as canoeing and kayaking will still be available.

“We have vistas of the river, a beautiful inlet to the river and a beautiful view of the Venderly Bridge,” Sarah Payne, RiverFest project manager, said. “We are really going to embrace much more of the river bank than we have ever done before.”

New this year to RiverFest 2013 is a 5k Mud Run that will have participants run through the campus to accomplish 12 obstacles, including crossing the St. Joseph River. There will also be a 400-meter Kids River Run for children 14 and under.

There also will be a Cardboard Regatta, the first in which participants must construct a cardboard boat to race across the river. Kelly Box and Packaging, one of the event’s sponsors, will give free boxes to the first 15 teams in each class division, and participants after the first 15 will receive boxes at a discounted price. Registration is now open for all of the events.

Jessica Butler of the IPFW Alumni Association, which is also a sponsor, said the IPFW department of engineering will be available to help teams design boats.

“Cardboard regattas have been done around the country for the past 40 years. They’re always an opportunity for you to work with your family, your friends, your co-workers and be creative, artistic, innovative and create something most people don’t think will float,” Butler said.

The open lawn area behind Williams Theatre will be used for the new “Farm to Fork” initiative, which will give information about how agriculture affects water quality and organizations that promote locally grown products. Behind the MusicFest stage, there will be a new “Fun in Motion” area that will have a trampoline bungee jump and rock wall.

Payne said RiverFest staff will be at Glenbook Square on Friday to sign up volunteers and answer questions about RiverFest 2013.