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RiverFest 2009 at Wilkes-Barre’s River Common

RiverFest, an annual event celebrating the Susquehanna River and “Rivers Month”, turns 10 this year and will do so in style at the newly revitalized River Common in Wilkes-Barre. Nearly $30 million was spent on the project which will officially open on June 19 after Luzerne County officials hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the event. The River Common now features a 750-seat amphitheater, two fishing piers and a paved walkway which stretches from the Courthouse to the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center a few blocks away. The ribbon cutting will kick off RiverFest, which hosts a whole weekend of festivities around the River Common and in nearby Nesbitt Park.

RiverFest will commence at 4 p.m. on Friday June 19th and will run though Sunday evening. The event will feature food and performances by the Wyoming Valley Concert Band at 6 p.m., Bobby Bath at 7 p.m. and finally Don Shapelle at 8 p.m on Friday. Other activities around the RiverCommon include a free fishing clinic by the Fish and Boat Commission, kayak demonstrations, mural painting by DCNR and the Keystone Active Zone Passport Station presented by the Wyoming Valley Wellness Trails.

The music and fun will continue to liven up the river with shows on stages at Nesbitt Park and the River Common on Saturday. Performances on the River Common stage will start with the NonRefundables at 12:30 p.m., Nowhere Slow at 2:15 p.m., the SW!MS at 4 p.m., Woody Browns Project at 5:45 p.m. and finally George Wesley at 7:30 p.m. Appearing on the Nesbitt Park stage will be Charles Havira at 1 p.m., K8 at 2:30 p.m., George Wesley at 4:15 p.m. and Don Shapelle at 6 p.m.

Music is just a start of all the activities there are to be had at RiverFest on Saturday! Nesbitt Park will be full of things to do throughout the day, including Story Telling by the Osterhout Free Library, rock climbing, tie-dye t-shirt making and lots more. See www.rivercommon.org for more details and a full list of all the activities available.

In addition to all the great exhibits and activities you can also sign up to paddle down the Susquehanna River. Enjoy the beauty of the Susquehanna River from a whole new perspective! You can expect to see lots of wildlife including river otters, bald eagles and other large and small birds. The paddling trips are 4 hours long on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday the trip will run from Harding to Wilkes-Barre and on Sunday the trip will depart Wilkes-Barre to arrive in Hunlock Creek.

Kayaking rentals are available from Endless Mountain Outfitters, Susquehanna River Adventures (570-328-4001), and Susquehanna Kayak and Canoe Rentals (570-388-6107). Costs range from $40 to $60 depending on size plus $17 to participate. A mandatory safety training will be provided to all participants by the PA Fish and Boat Commission, shuttle service is also included.

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