City council approves trio of Riverfront Park festivals

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2022

NILES — Riverfront Park will be a popular destination for residents and visitors alike this summer.

The council approved a trio of agenda items concerning the park, which included moving forward with annual events such as the Niles Burn Run, Riverfest and the Niles Bluegrass festival.
The Niles Burn Run, a 70-mile motorcycle ride to raise funds for young burn victims, is scheduled to run Saturday, July 30 through Sunday, July 31 in downtown Niles. Burn Run organizers will offer a variety of other activities that weekend at Riverfront Park, including live music in the amphitheater and a car/bike show.

According to organizers, the activities are designed to raise money so children can attend the Great Lakes Burn Camp in Jackson, Michigan. The burn camp promotes healing, self-esteem and confidence in children who have been burned.

The city will close various streets and parking lots, provide police and fire services, electric and water usage, use of Riverfront public park and facilities and will waive all fees associated with the event, with the exception of $20 vendor fees which will be collected by Niles Burn Run Inc. and payable to the city of Niles. The city will spend approximately $3,000 on the festival.

Riverfest and the Niles Bluegrass Festival are both organized by the Riverfront Optimist Club. Riverfest will take place from Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 6 at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater and will feature music, carnival rides, games and food and craft vendors. The annual festival serves as a fundraiser for the growth and development of the festival.

The Niles Bluegrass Festival will take place from Thursday, July 7 to Sunday, July 10 at the amphitheater and will feature several popular bluegrass and Americana acts as well as food and beverage vendors.

For both Optimist Club events, the city will pay for police presence – which will be left at the discretion of Police Chief Jim Millin – and police barricades while the Optimist Club will pay for utilities.

The compromise was reached after council members expressed concerns about reaching the limits of the city’s yearly events budget, as the estimated cost for each of the three events scheduled to be held at Riverfront Park is approximately $3,000. ROC president Josh Sitarz agreed to have the club pay for utilities to save the city money for future events and projects, including Fourth of July fireworks.

The council thanked Sitarz for his willingness to cooperate with the city.

“Thank you for the discussion and the willingness to work together,” said Mayor Nick Shelton. “I think it’s important. What you did by [offering to pay utilities] is going to allow us to do more things in the city, so I appreciate that.”