13th annual Riverfest kicks off today

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, August 5, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Downtown construction may cause some disruption for Riverfest, but festival officials are confident this weekend's event will be as popular as ever.
The 13th annual RIverfest is kicking off today and will continue through Sunday at Riverfront Park.
Riverfest chairman Dana Trowbridge said the fun-filled, family festival is one of Niles' biggest attractions and it continues to grow.
Riverfest had its biggest crowd ever last year and Trowbridge hopes to see similar success this weekend.
He attributes its popularity to the fact that it is a family-based event packed full of a variety of fun activities.
Among the festival's biggest attractions are the Mr. and Ms. Riverfest Contest, the "Anything That Floats" raft race, the Dragon Boat competition, the duck race fundraiser and the AAA All Car and Truck Show.
There will also be live music, arts and crafts, food vendors and children's games and activities at the festival site.
Streetscape construction is going to make parking a little more difficult this year, but Tom Majerek, vice-president of Riverfest, said it should not discourage anyone from coming out to have a good time.
Niles Downtown Development director Lisa Croteau pointed to some of the available parking lots in the area including the lot at Riverfront Park and lots along Sycamore at Second, Third and Fourth Streets. On street parking around the festival area will be another option.
Croteau also warns festival-goers to be careful when walking through the construction zones because some of the areas will be isolated with caution tape.
Tonight, Riverfest will begin at 6 p.m. with a performance from the Van Dyke Revue. Mr. and Ms. Riverfest will then take place at 7:30 p.m. followed by an encore performance from the Van Dyke Revue at 9 p.m.
Lynne Green, chairman of Mr. and Ms. Riverfest, said the contest is not your typical beauty pageant.
Now in its fifth year, the pageant is a fun, community-minded event that is open to everyone over the age of 18.
In fact, Green said the contest's first two winners were women over the age of 70.
There are 10 "impressive" contestants this year, five men and five women, she said.
Last year, Kevin Blair and Heather (Schultz) Pleimling were crowned as Mr. and Ms. Riverfest 2003.
Through the generous donations of local businesses, the winners are rewarded with more than $1,000 worth of gifts and gift certificates.