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The Niles Riverfest has been one of
Southwest Michigan’s most popular family festivals for more than 20 years. This free event celebrates one of the area’s greatest resources — the St. Joseph River. This year marks the return of an old classic: the Mr. and Miss Riverfest Con-
test. Other favorites return this year, including the Dragon Boat Races, Anything That Floats Raft Race, car show and antique lure and tackle display. Also, don’t miss the new motorcycle show. The fun begins Thursday, Aug. 1, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 4. We’ll see you there!
Since 1992, Niles Riverfest has grown to become a fun-filled summer family festival. It is held each year in downtown Niles at Riverfront Park along the St. Joseph River. Best of all, the festival is free. This fun-filled event has been attracting families from northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan. Riverfest began as a raft race on the St. Joseph River between local taverns. It remained just a raft race and then died out. In 1992, Sandy File and Gil and Penny Brazo brought it back to as more of a festival-type event, which included
the raft race. Before Riverfront Park was established, it was a challenge to hold a festival in that area. Most of the food vendors and games were held at the Eagle’s parking lot because the park was not yet landscaped. Since the park has been upgraded with the landscaping and walkways, Riverfest has really taken off. Niles Riverfest is a local festival that is coordinated by a volunteer staff of committee and board members of Riverfest Inc., and is supported by the donations of local area individuals, businesses and organizatios.
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Bring a camera to Riverfest and you could be a winner! Leader Publications is offering a Niles Riverfest Past and Present Photo Contest to anyone with a camera. All photographs must be entered electronically through the contest pages either on our Facebook fan pages or on our website at leaderpub.com. You may enter up to 10 photographs. Enter photographs from past or present Niles Riverfests. View the entries and vote for your favorite. Every day, new photos will appear on our website, leaderpub.com. Submit photos up until midnight Aug. 16. First place gets a one year family membership to the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, an $820 value. Second and third place winners get a gift card to Pizza Transit. Winners will be determined by a points system based on the popular vote and the votes of two staff judges. Judging will be based on how well the photograph tells the story of Riverfest as well as general composition.
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Heather Cheek submitted this photo of her daughter hoola-hooping at Riverfest.
Offer Valid August 1 – August 7, 2013 Not to be combined w/ other offers
& Care for seniors
West Woods of Niles would like to thank everyone involved in voting us Best of the Best nursing home in Niles. West Woods of Niles is honored that we have been recognized for our efforts of making our home a nice place to stay or live. The reason for our wonderful home is the loving and caring staff that works so hard to make our families guest and friends feel reassured their love ones are being taken care. Again Thank You Everyone, Chad Culver Administrator
West Woods of Niles Nursing Center 1211 State Line Road Niles, MI 49120 269.684.2810 www.peplinskigroup.com
Car show The 19th Annual Riverfest Car Show will begin with vehicle registration from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday at Riverfront Park behind Wonderland Cinema. The judging will occur from noon to 2 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony featuring the top 50 vehicles. Other awards will be handed out for top interior, top paint, top engine bay and best of show. Special Riverfest dash plaques will be offered to the first 125 vehicles that register for the car show. Goodie bags from Lane Automotive will be provided to all registrants and the famous “Hot Wheels”
Mustang will be present at the event. Sponsors for the Riverfest Bike and Car Shows include Campbell Ford, Precision Auto Body, Tom Rasler AAA Insurance, Dee’s Body Shop and Service Center and Red Star Welding and Gas Supply. WJOE’s Joe Carroll will be spinning the tunes while acting as the show’s emcee. Harbor Cycle and Sports will be present for the weekend with a variety of motorized offerings. Registration is $10 per vehicle. There will be 50/50 drawings, silent auctions, door prizes and more for the duration of the event.
Leader file photo
The first Riverfest Bike Show will begin with registration from noon to 3 p.m. at Riverfront Park behind Wonderland Cinema. Judging will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, and awards will be presented immediately following the judging. Awards for 2013 include the top antique, domestic, foreign, touring, cruiser, sport, custom, greatest distance traveled, home built and ugly Betty. Paparazzi Tattoos will be on-site all day. Local rock band Sucker Punch will begin performing after the awards ceremony. Sage Road Monster Truck Rides will also be present offering rides throughout
the day. Sponsors for the Riverfest Bike and Car Shows include Campbell Ford, Precision Auto Body, Tom Rasler AAA Insurance, Dee’s Body Shop and Service Center and Red Star Welding and Gas Supply. WJOE’s Joe Carroll will be spinning the tunes while acting as the show’s emcee. Harbor Cycle and Sports will be present for the weekend with a variety of motorized offerings. Registration is $10 per vehicle. There will be 50/50 drawings, silent auctions, door prizes and more for the duration of the event. For more information, contact Marc Milhander at (574) 340-9241.
The car show draws vintage vehicles from many eras.
Leader file photo
An ancient Chinese tradition that has become a favorite event for participants and spectators returns to Niles Riverfest. On Saturday, several teams will be racing dragon boats across the St. Joseph River in downtown Niles. It’s a popular event that has been happening during Niles Riverfest for the past 15 years. Racing starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and runs until early afternoon. The course is about 200 yards, stretching from just north of the Main Street bridge to the small dock north of the playground. Cost is $300 per boat, or around $15 a person. Between 14 and 18 people can paddle the boat. Each boat
will have a drummer and steersman. The flat-bottom teak wood boats weigh approximately 2,000 pounds each. The Dragon Boat festivities will begin Friday evening with the Awakening of the Dragon ceremony — the prelude to the dragon boat races. This original Chinese ritual includes dotting the eyes of the dragon’s head on each boat. The ceremony is conducted to cleanse and bless the area of the competition, the competitors and their boats. It also gives the boats and its crew the strength of the Dragon and the blessing of the Goddess of the Sea. For more information, contact Lisa Croteau at (269) 687-4332.
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schedule August 1st 7 p.m. High Life Rock Band 8 p.m. YMCA Mr. & Mrs. Riverfest Contest and Opening Ceremony 9 p.m. High Life Rock Band August 2nd 3 p.m. Open mic 5 p.m. Lake Effect Jazz Band 6 p.m. Harpeth Rising-Americana Band 8 p.m. Awakening of Dragon Boats Ceremony 8 p.m. Van Dyke Revue Rock & Dance Band 10 p.m. Hey Annie August 3rd 9 a.m. Dragon Boat Race 10 a.m. Al Mott Noon Foggy Knights Rock ‘n Roll Reunion Show Noon Riverfest Bike Show 2 p.m. Anything That Floats Raft Race
August 3rd (con’t.) 3 p.m. Harpeth Rising 4:30 p.m. Balos Family Bluegrass Band 6 p.m. Harpeth Rising-Americana Band 6 p.m. Sucker Punch at Bike Show 7 p.m. Dragon Boat & Raft Race Awards 7:30 p.m. Cajun Party with Creole Stomp
August 4th 9 a.m. Riverfest Car Show 10 a.m. Church of Niles Noon Keith Scott Blues Trio 2 p.m. Harpeth Rising-Americana Band 3 p.m. Lukas Simpson of Goldmine Pickers 4 p.m. Harpeth Rising-Americana Band 5 p.m. Lukas Simpson of Goldmine Pickers 6 p.m. Brian Eddington, folk rock 7 p.m. The Whistle Pigs
Leader file photo
Vendors provide arts, antiques and plenty to eat.
Mr. and Mrs.
Leader file photo
One of the oldest and most popular events at Niles Riverfest is the “Anything that Floats” Raft Race. This one-of-a-kind water parade will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday. A decorating party for all rafters will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at the boat launch behind the old Niles Police Station. It will continue on Saturday morning the during raft race registration, which begins at 10 a.m. The theme for Riverfest 2013 raft race is “Cartoons.” Two free T-shirts are included with each entry. Raft rentals are available for $75. An adult must accompany all participants under 16 years old. Participating groups decorate their rafts according to the current theme, then are put in the wa-
Leader file photo
ter and proceed down the St. Joseph River in a “floating parade.” All rafts will receive an award at the awards presentation later in the afternoon, and we request that each team have a representative present at the awards ceremony. A panel of judges will choose the winners of 10 special awards, including: Most Colorful Raft, Best Use of a Theme, Most Creative Raft, Best of Show, Raft Only A Mother Could Love, Best Built Raft, Rowdiest Raft, Prettiest Raft and Slowest Raft. The awards will be presented at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater Saturday at 7 p.m. Call Deb Wozniak at (269) 414-9958.
Past winners of the Mr. and Mrs. Riverfest include Bill and Marie Weimer.
The Mr. and Mrs. Riverfest contest is returning to this year’s Niles Riverfest. The competition runs from 8 to 9 p.m. Aug. 1 and is open to anyone 18 years of age or older. Competitors must enter as a couple, although competitors don’t have to be in a romantic relationship. The Niles-Buchanan YMCA is offering a free three-month membership to the winning couple. Applications can be picked up and turned in at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA. For more information, contact Lacey Peters at the YMCA at (269) 683-1552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get a bite Two nationally known antique fishing lure collectors from Niles will display old fishing tackle at this year’s Niles Riverfeest 2013. This is the 22nd year for the displays. Both exhibitors are considered experts in their respective fields of tackle collecting. They are Ric Ladonski (rods and reels) and Doug Bucha (lures). Both are members of the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club and Old Reel Collectors Associ-
ation. Many items on display will be from famous local fishing tackle manufacturers such as Heddon Tackle Company (Dowagiac), South Bend Bait and Tackle Company (South Bend), Paw Paw Tackle Company (Paw Paw), Creek Chub Bait Company (Garrett) and the Shakespeare Tackle Company (Kalamazoo). Visit the displays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Riverfront Park.