The Buckhannon River at sunset. / File photo by Brian Bergstrom

A real live stream: Fifth annual Riverfest to highlight value of clean water in memory of April Pierson-Keating

BUCKHANNON – The fifth annual Buckhannon Riverfest will go on this Saturday, Aug. 28 – both in-person and streamed live.

Kevin Campbell, president of Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance, said the 2021 edition of Riverfest will still offer yoga, live music and a water blessing, which can be enjoyed in person at the Elizabeth J. “Binky” Poundstone Riverwalk Park from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or streamed live on their Facebook page.

“It keeps changing as the days go on, but we’re still going to have some fun, and we’re still going to do some things at Riverwalk, but if you don’t want to come out to Riverwalk, you can catch the whole thing on Facebook Live at the Buckhannon Riverfest Facebook page,” Campbell said Friday, ahead of the event. “[The live-streamed event] will include the things that will be live at Riverwalk, like the yoga starting at 11:30 a.m. and the music with the Elk River Ramblers will start at about 12:30 p.m.”

Some of the guest presenters were unable to attend the event at the Riverwalk due to high COVID numbers, but Campbell said the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will also post a recorded presentation on the Facebook page.

“There will, of course, be rafting and kayaking on the river. I have one volunteer that that is still coming, so if you get your kayak to Riverwalk, I have somebody that will transport you down to Hampton,” Campbell said. “Obviously, some of the things like the face painting we had to do away with, and we’re not going to be selling any food, but the water blessing will still be live, and it’s scheduled for 2 p.m.”

Masks will be made available, along with hand sanitizer, and Campbell they encourage all participants to wear masks.

“We started this to celebrate this amazing gift that we have – this beautiful, mostly clear river, but we wanted to acknowledge the threats to it, and try to keep people vigilant,” Campbell said. “Groups like the Buckhannon River Watershed Association would talk about their work and what they do to make sure that acid mine drainage gets treated before it goes into the Buckhannon watershed and the city would talk about what they do to treat waste, to make sure that what goes back into the river is cleaner than what they took out – and all the things we can do to conserve it – but also what value it is to tourism, to fishermen, and to our way of life.”

Those looking to participate in the water blessing should bring a sample of water.

“We ask everybody attending to bring water that sustains your life, so it can be tap water or it can be out of a stream near your house,” Campbell said. “I have people bringing water from the Potomac. What we do is, everybody blends their water together and we offer some prayers over it and then we return some of that water to the Buckhannon River, split that blended water and then everybody can take some of it home. I’ll be bringing back water that was used for last year’s River Fest and April’s [Pierson-Keating’s] Memorial.”

The fifth annual Buckhannon Riverfest is not only a celebration of the preciousness of clean water, but also a commemoration of the life and work of April Pierson-Keating, who passed away in September 2019. She was the original founder and organizer of the event.

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