PORTSMOUTH — Friends of Portsmouth is gearing up for a September like no other as they line up entertainment, welcome carnival food vendors and thrill with amusement rides at this year’s River Days.
The annual festival is back this year and hoping to bring in a crowd bigger than ever with activities, live entertainment, river boat races and more. This year’s festival will take place Sept. 2 through Sept. 5 with fun for the whole family. Daily admission for the festival will be $5 per person with children 12 and under free.
“We are really looking forward to this year’s River Days,” Assistant Director Bryan Smith said. “We will have so many things for families to do and have a good time. It will be fun.”
Kicking off events Thursday, Sept. 2, gates will open at 5 p.m. with amusement rides and vendors. Smith shared that Friends of Portsmouth has tried to give a wide variety to festival-goers of vendors and food options for this year’s event. Thursday will also feature an opening ceremony of the festival, an introduction of the River Day pageant girls and include performances by Julia Neville and King Calaway.
“We have tried to get some entertainment for everyone to enjoy,” Smith said. “We have some really good acts this year.”
Smith was also excited to share this year, Portsmouth will welcome back boat races to the festival. Smith said he expected more than 60 boats in different classes racing throughout the weekend. Racing will start Friday with testing starting at 12:30 p.m. and a meet and greet with boat drivers at 5:30 p.m. Friday will also feature live entertainment from Dr. Michael Raies and The Bad Habits and Jacob Tolliver with the Stars of the Million Dollar Quartet and special guest drummer Kenny Aronoff. Amusement rides and vendors will also be available until 11 p.m. Friday.
“I think we will have some really fun rides,” Smith said. “The rides are an additional charge since they are an independent company coming in.”
Rides along with food vendors will be open throughout the duration of the festival and will open at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, festival-goers will also be able to enjoy the Annual River Days Parade. The parade will kick off Saturday’s events starting at 11 a.m. Following the parade, boat races will start at 1:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. For those who aren’t interested in boat races, there will still be plenty to do Saturday with the Miss River Days Pageant and performances with Moving in Stereo and Grand Funk Railroad closing out the evening.
On Sunday, Festival-goers will be able to enjoy one final day of fun with river boat races, amusement rides and vendors. Live entertainment also takes the stage Sunday with Go Fish, Frank Grasso, Josh Stewart and Shane Runion. Guests will also get the chance to participate in the Duck Derby at 5:45 p.m. Children can participate in children’s activities by the Candyland Children’s Museum at York Park from noon to 2 p.m. After the live entertainment has wrapped up, the festival will close out with fireworks. The fireworks are expected to start at 10 p.m.
While plans for the festival are still underway, Smith said the festival is also looking for volunteers for the festival.
“We are in need of volunteers,” Smith said. “We would love to have organizations or church groups get involved and help out if they can.”
Smith shared if anyone is interested in volunteering, they can reach out to him on the Friends of Portsmouth Facebook page. Admission for Rivers Day is $5 a day per person with children 12 and under free. Friends of Portsmouth is also selling memberships for the organization, which offers an individual membership at $25 or a family membership for $50 for the year.
The memberships will include admission to all days of River Days along with other perks throughout the year, including the Winterfest ice skating rink and tubing slide, Fourth of July event and discounts at local restaurants.
“The memberships are good for a year,” Smith said. “They will include admission to all events hosted by Friends of Portsmouth that are planned and anything that we might plan to do in that year.”
For more information on memberships or to see the full schedule of events, visit the Friends of Portsmouth website or Facebook page.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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