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BRATTLEBORO—The first-ever Riverfest weekend, hosted by the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC), will take place Saturday and Sunday, August 6-7.
“We are very excited to bring this event to Brattleboro and with local partners, to reinvigorate Riff Raft racing, to work with the New England Canoe and Kayak Racing Association and to have a great time on the river in Brattleboro,” says the director of the CRC. Director Andrew Fisk.
According to the CRC, Riverfest aims to “showcase the region’s rich array of outdoor recreational options, the many benefits of healthy rivers and the beauty of the area.”
On Saturday, the event will focus on the “Riverfest Village” and family activities on and near the river from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with an array of free activities.
Riverfest Village will be centered on Depot Street – Union Station Park, across from Whetstone Station Restaurant. Throughout the day you will find information about the river and related topics, exhibits reflecting some of the river’s history, art activities, and more.
Vernon Historians plan to have an exhibit in Riverfest Village related to the construction of the Vernon Dam, as well as photos of river travel prior to the construction of the many Connecticut River dams.
The Brattleboro Historical Society will display photographs of Island Park, the clubhouse and baseball diamond between Brattleboro and Hinsdale, NH, which was the site of many community events until it was flooded by the river in the 1960s. that followed the construction of the Vernon Dam in 1909.
Offerings will also include guided and independent opportunities to try outdoor recreation options including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs); fly fishing; hike Wantastiquet to enjoy the panoramic view from the summit over the valley in the Green Mountains or simply to spend time in the woods; hiking; nature walks; and more.
The CRC and its local partners will also offer activity stations and information sessions. Activities on dry land include river talks at the Latchis Theater with painter Benny Merns, poet-editor Mike Fleming, journalist Maddy Bodin, and naturalist writer and fly fisherman Reid Bryant.
A panel on the history of greater Brattleboro and its relationship to the river will include local historian Joe Rivers, along with former Vermont Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee.
“Lampey,” the mysterious Connecticut River monster that roams the region’s waters, may also make an appearance.
Also Saturday, the Riff Raft Regatta returns from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Registrants will build “hope it floats” rafts to compete in a 25-50 yard sprint alone or with a group. They will enter the river from Brattleboro Island in Hinsdale to a start line upstream from Whetstone Brook Restaurant and Whetstone Station and race to the Anna Hunt Marsh Bridge.
Several prizes will be offered in various categories. The first 10 teams to register for the Riff Raft Regatta will be entered on race day to qualify for a $100 gift certificate to be drawn from Sam’s. Ships must go to the start line to be entered into the Sam’s drawing.
The first boat to pass under the Anna Hunt Marsh Bridge will be awarded the title of Riff Raft Regatta Champion.
Consult the instructions and register on riff-raft-regatta-22.eventbrite.com.
Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the New England Paddlesports Championship (NEPC) will welcome riders from across the North East. Lessons will include canoes, kayaks, surf skis and stand up paddle boards.
While this is the 44th year the NEPC has been held on the Connecticut River between southern Vermont and New Hampshire, this is only the second time competitors will be in this stretch of river between Brattleboro and Vernon.
The race will start from Norm’s Marina, just over the Anna Hunt Marsh Bridge on Route 119 in Hinsdale, and is part of the New England Canoe and Kayak Racing Association (NECKRA) Flatwater Point series.
Centered downstream from the confluence of the West River and just below New Hampshire’s Mount Wantastict, runners will twice circumnavigate an island in the middle of the river on a 12-mile marathon course. SUP paddlers will follow a 5 mile course. Recreational-class paddlers and adult-youth novice boats can choose between the 5-mile loop course or the 1-mile trial loop. Spectators will be able to see it all from the decks and the shore.
Special prizes will be awarded to young-adult novice boats to encourage young paddlers to compete for their own set of awards. Register for races at bit.ly/673-riverfest.
Also on Sunday at 11 a.m. will be the Lampey Business Challenge, a two-person canoe race for businesses to compete in a 1-mile course and have their name inscribed on the challenge’s inaugural trophy. Bring your own canoe or rent one at Norm’s Marina.
Runners will park and enter the river at Norm’s Marina. Spectator and Riverfest parking will be available at the Runnings-George’s Field parking lot in Hinsdale and various public parking lots in downtown Brattleboro.
Connecticut River Conservancy’s mission is to work with partners in the four states of the river’s watershed to “protect and defend our rivers and educate and engage communities.” CRC’s work helps bring people together to prevent pollution, improve habitat and promote enjoyment of Connecticut and its tributaries.