This year, the Buckhannon Riverfest was 100 percent solar-powered and those attending enjoyed activities including displays, talks, demonstrations, kayaking, food, kids' activities and bands. Pictured is the Elk River Ramblers featuring Seth Maynard on guitar and voice, Paul Marganian on fiddle and voice and Galen Watts on bass and voice. Also performing during Riverfest was the Nesbitt Family.

Saturday’s third annual Riverfest solely solar-powered

BUCKHANNON – Water is a vital part of everyday life – it’s used for cooking, cleaning, drinking, bathing, fire suppression and recreation, among other purposes.

That was the main message Saturday at the third annual Buckhannon Riverfest, which took place at the Elizabeth J. “Binky” Poundstone Riverwalk Trail park. Folks in Buckhannon took time out to celebrate the vital resource and learn better how to conserve and use water.

Buckhannon Riverfest was sponsored by the Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance. Those gathering at the event enjoyed activities, including raft rides, music, food, kids’ activities, speakers, demonstrations, yoga, speakers, an interfaith water blessing ceremony and a tour of the Buckhannon Water Department.

Erica Young holds one of the non-poisonous snakes of West Virginia. W.Va. DNR representative Jim Fregonara set up during the third annual Buckhannon Riverfest and showed snakes that folks may encounter while kayaking or swimming in West Virginia. Fregonara said there are only 23 different kinds of snakes in West Virginia.

Organizer April Pierson-Keating with Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance shared one really important aspect of Saturday’s Riverfest she wanted everyone to know.

“Saturday’s Riverfest event was 100 percent solar-powered,” Pierson-Keating said.

The solar trailer that powered Saturday’s Riverfest / Photo courtesy April Pierson-Keating

Pierson-Keating said the Riverfest started three years ago in an effort by the Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance to promote clean water through a transition to clean energy sources.

“We are very concerned about fracking and pipelines destroying the quality of our water, our tourism industry and future job prospects because once you have a giant pipeline like that with an explosion radius of 1,800 feet on either side, you limit what you can do around that area,” she said.

“We started this event because we wanted to shine a positive light on our water and make people aware of how delicate and important it is,” Pierson-Keating added. “It’s important to us for tourism, it’s important to us for our lives, it’s important in a spiritual way. We have to keep it clean. As the climate changes and there are more droughts and storms, and we have more crop failures, water is going to become more and more precious – and more and more a source of conflict.”

She said Riverfest is meant to call attention to all of that and demonstrate that residents value water.

“It’s a positive thing – it’s critical to life and we don’t survive without it,” Pierson-Keating said.

Buckhannon Mayor David McCauley welcomed those gathered for the Buckhannon Riverfest and shared some of the city’s accomplishments in an effort to assure good quality water for its residents.

“Our Buckhannon water supply is in good shape,” McCauley said. “Our city, through its Water Board, has furthered several protective initiatives during the past year including installation of the first of two early warning monitoring stations upstream, that, when fully operative, will alert our plant so that the intake at our water plant may be closed to avoid contamination of our drinking water. These state-of-the-art stations offer exceptional protection for our water supply and our citizens.”

Jim Fregonara talks with Buckhannon Riverfest attendees about snakes in West Virginia. He brought both of the two venomous snakes native to West Virginia – a rattlesnake and a copperhead. Fregonara stressed that snakes are not evil and help control the rat population as well as being vital to the environment.

McCauley also told folks that Buckhannon ranks at the top in water utility companies in the state.

“I checked the water utility rankings in our state this morning, and as published by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, of the current 370 water providers in our state, Buckhannon ranks as the 38th most affordable water provider,” he said. “This means that 89.7 percent of the water users in West Virginia pay more for their water than we do in our Buckhannon water system. Not only do we have an excellent water system, but we deliver our water very efficiently and affordably. We’re all indebted to the superior operations of our Water Department!”

McCauley thanked everyone who organized an attended the third annual Riverfest.

“Let us all remain vigilant in protecting our source water. Please enjoy the rest of your Labor Day weekend in our beautiful, fun-filled community of Buckhannon,” he said.

Last year, the Buckhannon Riverfest attracted more than 300 participants.

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