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Riverfest raft race revived

Published 8:48am Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anything That Floats returns to festival

The Anything That Floats raft race is back on for this year’s Niles Riverfest.

Tom Majerek, event organizer, said a few sponsors stepped up to make sure the annual raft race would continue.

“Everybody thought it was canceled but we weren’t going to let that happen,” Majerek said. “We want to start growing it again to get it back to its old glory.”

Although it is called a raft race, Anything That Floats is more like a parade. Participants can build or rent a raft, decorate it and take it for a slow ride down the St. Joseph River. This year’s theme is “science fiction,” so rafters are encouraged to decorate accordingly.

All rafts will receive an award, but a panel of judges will choose the winners of 10 special awards, including Most Colorful, Best Use of Theme, Rowdiest Raft and more. Awards will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater.

“I am hoping that all the entries have a good time and help keep the spirit of the raft race going,” Majerek said.

Earlier this month, the Niles City Council declined to provide a monetary donation to the festival. A portion of that donation would have been used to pay for insurance for the raft race. Because of this, many questioned whether the raft race would continue.

The raft race is schedule to begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at Riverfront Park. The entry fee is $75 and includes two free t-shirts with each entry.

Rafts will be available to rent from local Boy Scout Troop 579 at a price Majerek said is negotiable.

“We really want people to come out, so we are making it affordable,” he said.

People are strongly encouraged to register either before or during Friday’s raft decorating party from 5 to 9 p.m. at Riverfront Park. However, people can still register from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Rental rafts will be made available Friday evening for decoration. Security will be provided to protect rafts overnight.

To register online, or for more information about the raft race, visit the website nilesriverfest.net. Call Brian Wozniak at (269) 357-1120 after 3:30 p.m. for more information about the raft race or to indicate plans to register.

A complete event schedule can be found online.

The Riverfest, which celebrates the St. Joseph River, takes place July 31 through Aug. 3 at Riverfront Park.

 

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