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

Riverfest to celebrate the centrality of clean water to human existence

BUCKHANNON – Wander over to Riverwalk Park Saturday to wonder at the myriad purposes of clean water and its centrality to life on Earth.

Organized by the Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance, Buckhannon Riverfest 2019 is slated for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 31 at the Elizabeth J. “Binky” Poundstone Memorial Riverwalk Park.

April Pierson-Keating with MLPA said the 2019 celebration of the Buckhannon River specifically and clean water generally marks Riverfest’s third annual event.

“It calls special attention to the need for clean water in our lives,” Keating said. “Clean water plays many roles, including obviously for drinking, but also for cooling, cooking, cleaning and in spiritual observations.”

Keating said state law requires waters of the state to be “fishable, drinkable and swimmable.”

“Without clean water, we can’t survive,” she said, “and it’s very easy to toxify water. [Some of the ways] we make our living in this area is very hazardous to water. There’s a lot of chemicals going into the water and air, and so we need to be mindful of our effect on the water because what we do to the water, we do to ourselves.”

In addition to a variety of speakers, informational tables and an interfaith water blessing at 2 p.m., tours of the Buckhannon Water Department will be offered.

“We also have a great water department here, so we want to celebrate that,” Keating said.

Although the land activities kick off at 11 a.m., anyone who wants to float down the Buckhannon River from the Hampton boat ramp in the southern section of the county to the Riverwalk should arrive early, Keating said.

Alan Stevens with recently opened outfitter Day Trippin Adventures will be transporting floaters to Hampton to drop them in the water there with kayaks. Anyone who wants to float downstream should arrive at 9 a.m. and call Stevens in advance at 304-516-6353, according to information sent out about Riverfest Wednesday.

Keating said kayaks and tubes will be available at the boat dock at the Riverwalk as well.

“It’s been popular in the past, and there’s something for everyone,” she said.

Keating has secured Seth Maynard and his bluegrass band, the Elk River Ramblers, to play from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Sam Nesbitt Band will play rock ‘n’ roll later in the afternoon, and speakers – including Buckhannon mayor David McCauley and representatives from the Buckhannon River Watershed Association and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection – are scheduled for 1 p.m.

A variety of kids’ activities – including a snake station set up by Jim Fregonara with the state Department of Natural Resources – will be on display for kids.

Jim Fregonara with the W.Va. DNR and one of West Virginia’s native snakes.

What’s more, the sun will power the entire event via a solar power bank, Keating noted in a press release Wednesday.
Keating said Riverfest is intended as a reminder that human beings must do what they can to conserve water and avoid polluting it.

“We are in the middle of a climate crisis that threatens our water security,” she said. “I think sometimes, we don’t see past our own backyard, but we have to start thinking more broadly if we are going to make a livable future for our children.”

To make a donation that will help MLPA pay for the cost of sponsoring Riverfest, go to and click on the ‘Donate’ button. Contributions may also be mailed to 849 Shawnee Dr., Buckhannon, WV 26201 with ‘Riverfest’ written in the memo line.

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