Sometimes a town just needs to celebrate, and for Lewistown if it’s summer and it’s a celebration, it’s gonna be on the Juniata River. Thus was born RiverFEST. This one day festival packs the wallop of a three day jaunt with a plethora of fun activities, competitions, art chows and so much more. With so much youthful energy and just unadulterated fun, the festival is like a rowdy teenage romp. The whole festival is contained to a local park, which is probably a good thing because it just feels like the whole thing could get up at any moment and gambol through town and just move like a partying riot till it dissipated from sheer exhaustion. Must be the wild spirit of the river taking over, or maybe it is something more. Either way, RiverFEST may be one day, but you might want to take the whole weekend just in case you need to recuperate from all the excitement.
First things first, the festival starts with the Rampage 5K, a race through beautiful Lewistown. As that goes on however, there is a community put in up the river at a nearby boat launch. Anyone with a canoe, kayak, or tube is welcomed to drift down the Juniata in this community float. The spectacle of the whole thing – that is a town floating down the river – is not something to be missed. The community float is a nice relaxing trip, so if it is competition you seek then sign up for the Raft Regatta. The Raft Regatta launches from a separate site at a campground and the finish line is at Victory Park where RiverFEST is held – 4 miles downstream. Prizes are awarded for coming in first, as well as things like coolest raft design and raft most likely to sink.
From late morning to almost midnight, vendors are open to sale their wares in Victory Park. Civil War re-enactors roam the festival, for children there are fun activities, and there is plenty of delicious food. RiverFEST Idol is a great caveat to the festival. It is an amateur singing contest open for audition to anyone over 12. After a month of widdlling down contestants, the culminating championship sing-off is held during the festival to everyone’s delight. Live music plays at the Victory Park Stage. There are over a half dozen bands which start in the morning and the music goes late into the night. Later in the evening, before everything closes down, a momentary break in the action ensues as a dazzling fireworks show takes to the air, a fitting tribute to the flash-in-the-pan excitement of RiverFEST itself.
Admission is free and parking is downtown.