Despite Rain, Rices Landing Riverfest 'A Blast'

Washington PA Observer-Reporter
15 June 2015
By Chelsea Dicks, Staff Writer

This year's Riverfest celebration included 55 vendors along the lock wall of the former Rices Landing Lock and DamDespite severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings for both days of Riverfest. More than 3,000 people attended the event.

Riverfest is giving Rain Day a run for its money as the event known for rain in Greene County.

Every year, Rices Landing Volunteer Fire Department, coordinators of Riverfest, hope for beautiful weather and clear skies. Yet, the festival is always welcomed with dark clouds and rain.

 “It did actually rain both days, and it did slow us down a little bit, but this year we still had over 3,000 people between the two days,” Ryan Belski, president of the fire company, said.

The attendance was about average for the festival for the past couple years.

Even with severe thunderstorms and flood warnings, Belski was surprised with the resilient spirit of the crowd.

As the dark clouds came over the hills and lightning started flashing, people left the outdoor venue, but after the storm billowed through, everyone returned and enjoyed the rest of the festivities, he said.

“I was really impressed with the fact that they came back out to support us regardless of the weather,” Belski said.

Master of Ceremonies for Riverfest, Nate Regotti, also was surprised by the exciting atmosphere the crowd created.

“It was such a blast. The rain kind of dampened things for a little bit, but when the rain went away, the crowd just pulled in,” Regotti said.

Both believed the event would attract twice the number of people if not for the weather.

The largest crowds were seen in the evenings for the main events, including live music and fireworks.

Artists like Christian Beck, a country music singer, and The Hillbilly Way, a local favorite, brought more energy to the event, Regotti said.

“When the sun goes down, the wild and crazy party comes out, and we had a blast,” Regotti said.

“They just put this excitement into the atmosphere. It was something on stage that you could just feel.”

Belski said vendors, some whose tents were damaged and merchandise lost in the storms, were already planning for next year's event. He said at least 15 vendors already said they will return.

“They had a great time and said that they won't let the weather deter them; they will be back next year,” Belski said.

For the fire company, this is great news.

Riverfest stands as their largest fundraiser throughout the year and vendors promising their return means the event is becoming more prominent, Belski said.
The early figure for the amount raised during the festival is about $16,000. Belski said they are more than pleased.

“We never expected that many people to come out, especially after the bad weather, but it was an overall success. There is no doubt about it,” Belski said.
For next year, the coordinators plan to keep a lot of the same concepts.

Vendors and sponsors continue to grow every year, and people continue to attend in large numbers.

Belski said next year they are hoping for good weather to determine Riverfest's true potential.