Festival Salutes River Life

Cheat Fest is set for this weekend

Morgantown Dominion Post
5 May 2011

TICKETS to Cheat Fest are $15 at the gate. Children under 12 are admitted free with an adult. Gate opens at noon. To get there, take Interstate 68 East to the Bruceton Mills exit. Turn right onto W.Va. 26 South and drive about 10 miles. Look for signs for Cheat Fest on the right. Dogs are not permitted at Cheat Fest. Info: cheat.org or 304-329-3621.

The Cheat River provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, and so does the festival that supports it.

Those interested in attending Cheat Fest can grab a paddle, a pair of running shoes, a lawn chair, or any combination of the three, when setting out for Friends of the Cheat’s (FOC) annual fundraiser.

Cheat Fest kicks off with a downriver race at 5:15 p.m. Friday that will take about 150 boaters on a ride through the river’s canyon. One competition will be followed by another; at 10 a.m. Saturday, there will be a 5K foot race at Preston County Country Club. At noon that same day, musicians, vendors and artisans will come together just outside of Albright at FOC’s festival grounds.

The main event lasts until 11 p.m. and is intended to include something for everyone. Vendors will offer paddle sports gear, arts and crafts, green technology, and outdoor services. There will be an environmental-education program including live birds of prey from the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center. A kids’ area will offer free, hands-on activities, and there will be a dunking booth.

And then there are the musical acts, which play from 1-11 p.m. New to the festival this year, but not the state, is Johnson’s Crossroad. This group came together in West Virginia and has since taken its bluegrass, old-time stylings to Asheville, N.C. Also new to the Cheat Fest stage will be Cello Fury, Rising Regina and The 23 String Band. They will be joined by Jammin’ Round, Stewed Mulligan, Aurora Celtic and Halftime String Band.

Those familiar with the 17-year-old festival will note another new addition besides the bands — the FOC Consignment Area. Here, the public can donate outdoor gear items or place them on consignment with volunteers for sale during the festival. Sellers will determine the price, or price range, and FOC will receive 30 percent of that. There will also be a recycling station for unusable inflatable and hard- river boats and life jackets.

Festival goers can also purchase chances to win a wide variety of items from Patagonia gear and CDs to fine art and gift certificates.

All proceeds from Cheat Fest go toward FOC’s mission to preserve, restore and promote the Cheat River.

“The Cheat River Festival is FOC’s main fundraiser of the year,” said festival coordinator Janet Lenox.

“As water is essential to life, this festival and regular donations throughout the year from individuals, business and corporate sponsors are critical to maintaining the life of the organization. As more potential environmental threats are embarking upon the watershed, our small staff and funding for operational expenses are stretched to its limits. We hope you can show your support by coming out to the festival and celebrating with us the renewal of life in both the watershed and the season. ”