Wilmington, N.C., September 10, 2014: October is just around the corner and organizers of the 36th Annual Riverfest wish to invite everyone to visit Wilmington’s historic river district the weekend of October 3-5 to “Rediscover Riverfest” and experience the exciting ways in which the festival has grown and changed in recent years. With the Cape Fear River as its focus, Riverfest captures the river’s heritage, culture, and natural beauty with a schedule of events that all ages will enjoy.
Since its humble beginnings in 1979, Wilmington’s annual Riverfest celebration has become the area’s largest fall festival. What started as a small cultural street fair to entice residents to venture Downtown now extends from the Coastline Conference & Event Center on Nutt Street all the way to Chandler’s Wharf on South Water Street. Today’s Riverfest remains true to its roots as a family-friendly, cultural festival. It now boasts a half-mile of free entertainment with more than 200 craft vendors and concessions, as well as continuous live music, fireworks, a Kidz Zone, visiting ships, pirates, competitions, and lots of exhibits and special events.
The 36th Annual Riverfest celebration begins on Friday, October 3 with a Garden Party (11am-3pm) at Greenfield Lake’s Rotary Garden, home of the world’s largest rotary wheel. Garden Party tickets ($55 each) are available online at http://greenfieldlakecollaborative.org/ and parking/shuttle service will be at Legion Stadium. At 6pm, the Riverfest concert series jumpstarts Friday evening festivities at Wilmington’s Riverfront Park in the Beer Garden. On Saturday and Sunday, a street fair winds its way through Wilmington’s historic river district with special exhibits, along with vendors selling art and handmade crafts and over 30 food vendors serving festival edibles. Continuous live entertainment is another hallmark of Riverfest with a variety of performances that underscore the influence of arts and culture on the Cape Fear lifestyle. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the Main Stage at Riverfront Park and the Beer Garden stage will showcase live bands. The Kid Zone stage also offers family entertainment. And what river celebration would be complete without pirates? The 85-foot pirate ship Liana's Ransom will offer tours (admission charge) both days from the dock behind the Hilton Wilmington Riverside (www.lianasransom.com).
Other Saturday events include: the Sun Coast Cruisers Classic Car Show (Sat., 10am-6pm, Market Street), a Standup Paddle Race (10am), and a Kids Pirate Treasure Hunt (1pm-4pm). At 6pm, the Beer Garden music stage welcomes live bands. Returning this year is the Invasion of the Pirates Flotilla (www.invasionofthepirates.com/Flotilla.html), a lighted pirate-theme boat parade and competition at 7:20pm, followed by a dazzling display of riverside fireworks at 9pm. Sunday’s special events include the 24th Run the River 8K Race (race at 8am; registration 7am), the Great Waiter's Wine Race (2pm) and the Antique Car Show (10:30am-3pm, Market Street). New this year is a Rowing Regatta (11am) on Sunday.
There are also plenty of free family activities at the ever-popular Kidz Zone at the Cotton Exchange, such as face/hair painting, balloon art, games, amusements, arts/crafts, clowns, rides, obstacle course, mascots, live entertainment, and more. Older kids will enjoy exhibits at the Adventure Zone. Affordable event parking is available in public parking decks located at 2nd & Princess streets, at Front & Market streets; and at 2nd & Chestnut streets.
See where the water takes you! Annual events like Riverfest afford visitors a great opportunity to experience our region’s traditions. An estimated 200,000 gather at Riverfest to celebrate the heritage, beauty, and culture of the Cape Fear River. Riverfest continues its commitment to Cape Fear Community College with an endowment that helps support its Marine Technology Program studies and environmental efforts. For more information about Riverfest 2014, visit www.wilmingtonriverfest.com. For visitor information on Wilmington, N.C.’s Historic River District and the Island Beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com, www.visitcarolinabeachnc.com, www.visitkurebeachnc.com, and www.visitwrightsvillebeachnc.com. Visitors may also call 866-266-9690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free Official Visitors Guide.