CANTON — The 29th annual Riverfest Arts and Crafts Festival is packed full of new features, adding an entertainment tent for football fans and a redesigned children’s area for the upcoming festival.
With more than 120 arts and crafts vendors, merchants with homemade edibles, children’s attractions, an area to watch the weekend games and lots of entertainment scheduled, this year’s Riverfest promises to be a weekend for everyone.
The festival, which runs Sept. 28 and 29, is put on by the Service League of Cherokee County and admission into the festival is a suggested $5 donation with all proceeds, including soft drink sales, going to help needy children in Cherokee County.
About 15,000 people are expected at this year’s event.
Jennifer Stanley, Riverfest chairwoman for this year’s event, said it is all for a good cause.
“Riverfest is one of the largest fundraising events for the Service League of Cherokee County,” Stanley said. “We depend on our patrons to help us provide eyeglasses, pay utilities and medical bills and provide scholarships for local children.”
Stanley said with new vendors and updates to the festival, it should be a great weekend.
“All of your Riverfest favorites are in the same areas as years past, but we have tweaked them a little bit. We are hoping that our small adjustments will pay off in happy patrons,” Stanley said Friday. “Approximately 30 percent of our vendors are new this year. …We have such a wide variety of vendors this year, there is really something for everyone from duck calls to jewelry to pottery to art and more.”
Riverfest spokeswoman Millie Cline said the new End Zone football entertainment area is complete with big screen TVs showing the weekend games, team-themed decorations and giveaways of sports and other prizes.
“We just really want Riverfest to be an event that’s for the whole family, and so we felt like this would be a great addition to the show,” Cline said Friday. “We’re going to have a huge tent, and we’re going to have the trailer with flat screen TVs running the game, and we’ll have raffles for prizes.”
The End Zone area will be toward the back field, past the vendors, Cline said. On Sept. 28, it will feature the University of Georgia verses Louisiana State University football game and Sept. 29, NFL games and highlights.
Cline said that the idea for the new football entertainment area came about because the weekend the festival is scheduled on is also a big weekend for football games, and a lot of people want to be able to enjoy both.
“We’re so super excited because, finally, we feel like Riverfest has something for everyone now,” Cline said. “It’s not just for the kids, it’s not just for the ladies, there really is something for everyone.”
The End Zone will have a raffle for 21 prizes in the football area, including: Atlanta Falcons tickets, University of Georgia football tickets, Georgia Aquarium tickets, a golfing package, DVD players, signed sports items, gift certificates and a variety of baskets and gift packages.
“It’ll be very festive,” Cline said. “It’s really going to be decked-out for a full-on tailgate. It’s a Riverfest-style tailgate.”
The children’s area will have several activities and new attractions for older children, according to Children’s Area Chairwoman Kim Fowler.
“We felt like there needed to be things for all ages, so this year we focused on bringing in things that would reach other age groups besides elementary-aged kids,” Fowler said.
Some new features include a rock climbing wall, “hamster bumper balls” and an old-fashioned carousel.
“Hamster ball is probably going to be the biggest thing,” Fowler said Friday. “We brought the climbing wall and the hamster balls so that the older kids would have some things to do, and a lot of the inflatables … it gives older kids and parents a chance to participate.”
The inflatable hamster balls will be in the back field, not in the children’s area, because that activity requires more space, Fowler said.
There will be seven inflatables, wacky hair, pony rides, a petting zoo and many other attractions, Fowler said, all ranging in cost from $1 to $5.
“We’ve also added, for our story time, the Cherokee High School Drama Department doing plays, but we will also have local children’s book authors reading,” Fowler said.
Riverfest is at Boling Park in Canton, and is handicap accessible. However, no dogs are allowed in the park.
Due to “much-needed grounds renovations” at Cherokee High School, Stanley said the parking situation for the festival will be a little altered this year.
“We will have shuttles the entire day from all parking lots, which include the parking lot at the entrance of Boling Park, the terraced lots behind Cherokee High School and the lots at Cherokee High School and Canton Elementary School,” Stanley said. “Local Boy Scout troops will be in the lots all day to help everyone park safely and get to the entrance of Riverfest.”
The Service League is a group of 90 women who volunteer their time for the cause, Stanley said.
“It may seem small but your day out with your family is making a difference in the life of a child here, locally,” Stanley said.