Riverfest needs more contestants
By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- According to Riverfest officials, Riverfest 2003 is en route.
With only two weeks remaining before the event kicks off, however, there seems to be somewhat of a short-fall in contestants for the Fourth annual Mr &Ms. Riverfest 2003 Pageant.
Richard Fintze, president of the Friends of Niles Riverfest Inc., therefore, said it's important to get the word out.
Fintze said apart from the new family boat building workshop, most of the events at this year's Riverfest are stand-by's, such as the Dragon Boat Challenge, the "Anything that Floats" raft race, the All Classic Car and Truck Show and the Niles Optimist Duck Race.
The family boat building event gives families the opportunity to work together to build a regular size boat that can be used for travel on water.
In addition to the new family boat building event, the South Bend Lions Club Mountain Bike Poker Run is new to Riverfest.
The race that starts and ends at Riverfront Park's Amphitheater, will go through areas in Niles that have never been used for a bike race before.
Lynette Votava, chair of advertising and publicity for Riverfest 2003, said the mountain bike race is unique.
Bike riders of all ages are welcome to participate in what organizers say will be a scenic ride.
Everyone is required to wear a helmet throughout the entire race, Votava said.
The race starts and ends at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater.
Votava said this year's Riverfest also has more to offer young and older children, such as games and activities.
She also said there will be more arts and crafts and commercial vendors at Riverfest this year.
Patrick Sawyer, who paddled the entire length of the St. Joseph River earlier this year in an effort to promote conservation and encourage people to use the river, will be this year's opening ceremony's special guest.
Tom Majerek, however, is in charge of the raft race and the entertainment at Riverfest.
He said Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be packed with great music and entertainment for the whole family.
Majerek said Friday's musical highlight is Soul Rider, which is a rock and roll band from South Bend, Ind.
Saturday's highlight is Soul Shaker from Niles, while Sunday will see performances from Elvis impersonator Irv Cass and Jedda and the Jelly Beans.
Jedda and the Jelly Beans is a band that plays rock and roll music for children.
Majerek said unlike in previous years, people can register to participate in the raft race up until the night before the race.
He hopes to have 40 different rafts participate in this year's race.
A lot of the money raised during Riverfest goes to sponsor organizations that sponsor activities at Riverfest and pursue charitable ventures.