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Sanibel Stack paddles her way to victory in the 2016 River Fest cardboard boat regatta. The event is returning to downtown Fenton for 2019.

 Friday, June 21 marks the first day of summer and what better way to kick off this year’s season than with the fifth annual Shiawassee River Fest.

 This year, for the first time, the event will be held Sunday, June 23 in downtown Fenton in Rackham Park behind the Community & Cultural Center.

 According to Brad Jacob, co-chairman of the Keepers of the Shiawassee, the first and second festivals were held in Bush Park. It was then moved for the third and fourth event to downtown Linden.

 Jacob said it is the group’s hope that this year’s downtown Fenton location will be easier to find and well-attended. He anticipates more than 2,000 visitors throughout the day.

 “Our fifth annual ‘Shiawassee River Fest’ river festival at Rackham Park, on the banks of the Shiawassee River, is our main fundraiser for the year,” Jacob said. “The festival features the beautiful Shiawassee River and river town community, includes seven hours of live local music, local restaurants and food vendors, catch and release fishing tournament, homemade cardboard box canoe and kayak regatta, a rubber duck race, a large selection of local arts and craft vendors, kayak demos and much more.

 A bounce house, face painting and other activities are planned for kids.

 “And, as community education is included in our mission, this year we have a booth dedicated exclusively to the topic of invasive species,” he said.

 While entry to the festival is free, there is a charge to participate in the fishing tournament, duck race and cardboard regatta, for example. The funds raised go toward projects that include signage along the river, maps, river cleanups and Terrain360 to name a few.

 Ryan Crenshaw, a boat operator and waterways explorer with Terrain360, a company based in Richmond, Virginia, is currently floating along the river in a small, modified pontoon boat from Holly to Chesaning, taking photos of the state water trail. They will be posted on terrain360.com when the project is complete.

 D & W’s Street Eatery, known locally as “the taco truck” will be among the food vendors that also includes Motor City Smokers (BBQ) and Hungry Howie’s pizza. They will be located at the back of Rackham Park.

 Live entertainment will include the sounds of “On the Rox,” “Blindsight,” “Genesee Ramblers,” “Two Tone Corduroy,” “Playin’ with Jacks,” “Sugar Hook,” and the “Jon Fett Quartet.”

 The festival begins at 12 p.m. and lasts until 7 p.m. The fishing tournament begins at 6 a.m. The cardboard box regatta starts at 1:45 p.m. Participants may bring cardboard creations from home. The only rule is the box must be made of cardboard and Duct tape. Those who wish can build their cardboard box on site.

 “We will have cardboard and Duct tape on hand for that purpose,” Jacob said.

 The rubber ducks will be released at 3:45 p.m., and at 4 p.m., the fishing tournament ends. An awards ceremony will take place at 4:45 p.m. at the gazebo. There the winners of the cardboard boat race, duck race and fishing tournament will be announced.

 For more information about this event and to sign up for various activities, go to keepersoftheshiawassee .com.

About the Keepers of the Shiawassee

The Keepers of the Shiawassee River is an all-volunteer group dedicated to keeping the river clean and passable to river enthusiasts. The Shiawassee River has recently been designated as a State Water Trail. The group is coordinating with municipalities and river groups up and down the river as a supporting member of the Shiawassee River Water Trail Coalition, to acquire the National Water Trail designation (joining 21 others in the National Water Trails system.)

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