Riverfest traditionally attracts large crowds to downtown Niles. This year’s Riverfest will be Aug. 5-8. (Daily Star Photo/File)
Riverfest traditionally attracts large crowds to downtown Niles. This year’s Riverfest will be Aug. 5-8. (Daily Star Photo/File)

Archived Story

There is a different kind of buzz for Riverfest

Published 7:51pm Sunday, July 25, 2010


Niles Daily Star

Eau Claire has the Cherry Festival. Coloma has the Peach Festival. Niles has its fall Apple Festival.

Nearly every community in the area has an event honoring a fruit.

So when the Niles Riverfest comes along each summer, there seems to be a buzz about the festival that is wildly different from the others.

“It’s an unusual event,” said Melinda Michael, executive director of the Four Flags Council on Tourism. “So many things this time of year are similar. Riverfest is very different in celebrating the river and the community around it.”

This year’s Riverfest takes place Aug. 5-8.

All of the activity is focused around the river, including the “Anything that Floats” raft races, fan boat rides that are new to the festival this year and the famous dragon boat races that are always a big draw for people outside the Niles community.

“Something unique to this area and even South Bend is our dragon boats,” Ron Sather, the president of the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce said. “It’s the kind of thing you see in the movies, just very impressive.”

Sather said the uniqueness and broad appeal of Riverfest draws a nice crowd every year and brings more business to downtown businesses and restaurants.

“It think it probably brings more people than any other of our downtown events,” he said. “And it is more than one day, so it has some legs on it.”

Sather and Michael said both the Council on Tourism and the Chamber of Commerce get a surge of phone calls in the weeks leading up to Riverfest.

Michael said the event draws people from throughout Michiana and even a few from outside the area.

“I know a girl from Arizona who comes in every year. She’s from Eau Claire, so she plans her vacation around Riverfest,” she said.

Lenette Votava, the Riverfest co-chairperson, estimates the festival will draw about 5,000 people to Niles over the course of the weekend.

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