Schedule set for 2011 Riverdays Festival

RIVERDAYS: The 10th annual Riverdays Festival starts Sept. 1. Returning to the annual Labor Day weekend festival is the Over the River and Thru the Woods 5K run. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Many of the events scheduled for the 2011 Big Rapids Riverdays Festival are returning crowd favorites, while others are new ones designed to attract more people to town this Labor Day weekend.

The schedule for the 10th annual festival was finalized last week. New events include a children’s bike rodeo, an illusionist performance and children’s activities sponsored by Artworks.

“The main thing for Riverdays is to try to get people to come to Big Rapids,” said organizer and City Clerk Roberta Cline. “Instead of people going someplace else on Labor Day weekend, we’re trying to get them to come here.”

The event kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 1 with the annual Founder’s Day Celebration and ice cream social and picnic at Ferris State University. The event that encourages intermingling between the community and students returning for the year is from 3 to 7 p.m. on the university quad.

The event will be followed by a Buck Wilder performance at 6 p.m. in the Dome Room at the Rankin Center, and a performance by illusionist Craig Karges at 8 p.m. at Williams Auditorium. All events are free and open to the public.

Riverdays continues on Friday with an all-city yard sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Big Rapids City Hall parking lot. Also scheduled for Friday are a downtown block party from noon to 6 p.m., a car cruise and sock hop from 5 to 9 p.m. at A&W and a STAGE-M Disney review at 7 p.m. at the community band shell.

Returning events for Saturday include the Big Bad Wolf Adventure Race at 7:30 a.m. followed by the Over the River and Thru the Woods 5K run at 9 a.m., the Jail Yard Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Old Jail and Pawfect Day in the Park for pets from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hemlock Park.

New to Saturday’s events are a Bike Rodeo for children ages 2 to 11. The event starts at 9 a.m. at Hemlock Park.

“They’re going to have children bring their bikes to go through an obstacle course,” Cline said. “It’s going to be kind of a skill type thing, not really races. It will be fun.”

Sunday includes a community worship from 1 to 7 p.m., and a showing of the film “Galaxy Quest” at 8:30 p.m. Both events will take place at the band shell.

Monday closes out the festival with the annual arts and crafts show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hemlock Park.

“Riverdays grew up around the arts and crafts festival 10 years ago,” said event organizing chair Cynthia Glazier. “Riverdays was started to keep people local on Labor Day weekend. There’s such a broad spectrum of events for children, seniors, families, athletes, artists, music lovers, pet lovers and more. There truly is something for everybody at Riverdays.”

She expects several thousand people to attend this years events, with most coming from Mecosta and the surrounding counties.

“Times are hard and it’s hard to take a vacation somewhere else in Michigan,” Glazier said. “We have people who come from all over the state for the arts and crafts festival. Most of the other events are basically from the west central Michigan area.”

Although the schedule has been finalized, Glazier said they are still looking for volunteers to help with several of the events scheduled throughout the weekend.

For more information about volunteering, contact Glazier at (231) 250-5968, or by e-mail at cynthiaglazier@aol.com.

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Posted by Jonathan Eppley

Jonathan Eppley is news editor for the Pioneer. He designs and copy edits the Pioneer daily, and manages staff in the evening. Eppley joined the Pioneer staff in 2010. He can be reached at (231) 592-8357 or at jeppley@pioneergroup.com.

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