Riverfest returns to Niles June 2-5

Published 11:48 am Friday, May 27, 2022

NILES — A longtime staple event returns to downtown Niles next week.

Riverfest will take place from Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 5 at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater and will feature music, carnival rides, games and food and craft vendors. 

The festival – which was revived last year following a seven-year hiatus – serves as a fundraiser for the growth and development of the festival. Riverfest will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. June 2-3, noon to 10 p.m. June 4 and noon to 6 p.m. June 5.

“In 2019, the Bluegrass Festival was [The Optimist Club’s] flagship event and Riverfest grew into two events in one,” he said. “You had the carnival and activities on one side of the park and you had the bluegrass, Americana and folk music on the other. Last year, we decided to bring Riverfest back and take the fair feel into Riverfest.”

Growing up having heard of traditions of Riverfest past, Sitarz wanted to bring back longtime festival staples while bringing in new traditions. Re/Max Niles will be hosting a non-static hot air balloon from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 4. The Riverfest Dragon Boat Races will be making their return and canoe rentals will be available for guests to experience the St. Joseph River. An axe throwing vendor will be on site June 4 and 5.

“I’m trying to bring it back to its roots,” Sitarz said. “I’m only 20 so I never got to live through Riiverfest in its prime during the 90s and 2000s. It was so cool what they were able to do back then and that’s what I want to be able to do is keep growing that. Making new traditions while taking it back to its roots.”

After overseeing Riverfest’s successful return last year, Sitarz is optimistic about this year’s edition.

“It was crazy how many people came out,” he said. “It was like a circle; You’d have a husband, wife and children go buy wrist bands at the carnival, ride some rides, got to the food court and get some food and then go listen to music. They spend all day there doing that. It balances out with the carnival, food, crafts and music.”


Official Niles Riverfest Music Lineup

Thursday June 2

4:00 pm – Good Live Music

7:30 pm – Romeo’s Ghost

Friday June 3

4:00 pm – Open mic, hosed by Erudite. 

5:00 pm – Erudite 

6:00 pm – John Hollywood

7:00 pm – Fillmores Ladder

Saturday June 4

12:00 pm – Backwater Revival

1:30 pm – Nate and the Turn-ups

3:30 pm – Oblates of Blues

5:30 pm – Work-in-Progress

7:30 pm – The Santana Project

Sunday June 5

11:00 am – 1:00 pm Sperro House Christian Service

1:00 pm – Good Live Music

2:00 pm – Jeff Whitaker 

3:00 pm – Phil Anderson

4:00 pm – The Prairie Dogs

6:00 pm – The Toonas