Riverfest raft race sunk?Published 8:10am Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Nothing may be floating in the Anything That Floats Raft Race at this year’s Niles Riverfest.
On Monday, the Niles City Council voted 4 to 3 to approve this year’s festival, but without a $2,900 contribution from the city.
The majority of that money would have been used to pay for insurance for the raft race, according to Lisa Croteau, program manager for Niles Main Street Downtown Development Authority.
“Chances are there won’t be a raft race,” she said. “Riverfest will go forward. The only thing it affects is the raft race.”
The Riverfront Optimists will put on the Riverfest at Riverfront Park. They were asking the city to approve the festival there from July 31 to Aug. 3 with the $2,900 contribution.
Councilman David Mann asked that the monetary contribution be taken out of the motion, a move supported by Scott Clark.
Councilmembers then voted 4 to 3 to approve the motion with Mann, Clark, Bill Weimer and Georgia Boggs in favor. Robert Durm, Tim Skalla and Gretchen Bertschy voted against the motion. Dan VandenHeede was absent.
Mann said based on his research he believes it is illegal for the city to fund these types of events. He also said it would not be fair to fund this festival with the knowledge that the city has not been funding other events in recent years.
While the raft race appears sunk, Riverfest will still feature the annual Dragon Boat Races at Riverfront Park on Saturday, Aug. 2. The council approved the Main Street DDA to hold that event.
This year’s Riverfest will feature live music, food, vendors and many other activities in celebration of the St. Joseph River.
Participants in the Anything That Floats Raft Race built their own rafts to float down the river.