RiverArts & WC’s Center for Environment and Society Announce “RiverFest”


Chestertown RiverArts and Washington College Center for Environment & Society are launching RiverFest, a new, annual event on Saturday, September 26 that will include an afternoon festival at Wilmer Park, water activities and the lighting of a large, floating, solar-powered sculpture at sunset. 

Beginning at noon, Wilmer Park on the Chestertown waterfront will be filled with music, activities for families including RiverArts’ KidSPOT and Phillips Wharf Fish Mobile, a Sun, Sail and Paddle Expo displaying kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, sailboards and day sailors, as well as accessories by manufacturers and local distributors; art and environmental displays; and good food and drink.

The first water event of the afternoon will be RiverArts Poker Run, in which participants paddle to each of five buoys stationed along the river to pick up one sealed envelope containing a playing card at each buoy. After all paddlers return to shore they open their five envelopes at once and compare their cards to see who drew the winning hand and wins the cash prize

Washington College’s 9thAnnual Cardboard Boat Regatta will take to the water at 3PM. The popular and always exciting competition is open to students and all members of the community. Participants create homemade cardboard crafts ranging from nautical to whimsical and from seaworthy to water logged to compete.  The regatta takes place along the waterfront by Wilmer Park. 

Kayak and canoe races are planned for the afternoon and will start and finish in front of Wilmer Park. The mile-long race course extends south to a broad turn at the mouth of Radcliffe Creek before returning to the park. The race will begin with a heat for kayaks 12 ft. long and over. The second heat will feature kayaks less than 12 ft. long, and a third heat for twosomes in tandem kayaks and canoes. 

RiverArts Parade of Lights will begin just prior to the illumination of the solar sculpture. Led by RiverArts’ KidSPOT children, the festival will process to the area where the illumination of the floating sculpture is staged. 

The RiverFest floating sculpture is designed by Vicco and Jacquie von Voss with the logistical and engineering support from Zane Carter and Ed Minch. The solar powered sculpture will light up as the sun goes down and the full moon rises over the eastern shore of the Chester River. It will be a stunning spectacle to behold. 

Vicco von Voss is a master wood worker and furniture maker, best known for his use of natural materials. His signature “Vicco Chair” was awarded Best In Show at RiverArts’ recent “Woodworkers’ Showcase” exhibition. His work has been displayed at art galleries including Kohl Gallery at Washington College; The Carla Massoni Gallery, Chestertown; Academy Art Museum, Easton; Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and in Hamburg, Germany. No stranger to art on a grand scale, his home was featured as a work of art in the Thanksgiving 2014 issue of the New York Times.

Painters competing in the RiverFest Plein Air competition will be visible throughout RiverFest capturing images of the event. For out-of-town visitors, there will be walking tours of downtown Chestertown to learn about our rich history. The Sultana has two public sails scheduled during the day and the Center for the Environment and Society will also be taking guests on their research vessel, the Callinectes. Echo Hill Outdoor School will be hosting students and staff from Pennsylvania State University on its classic skipjack, the Elsworth and its historic ship, the Annie D. 

RiverArts is currently looking for sponsors for the event as well as paddle and solar exhibitors for the Sun, Sail & Paddle Expo. Interested parties should contact Jodi Bortz at 410-778-6300 or jodibortz@chestertownriverarts.org to learn more.

RiverFest promises to be a fun filled day for everyone. It will be a great showcase of Kent County, Chestertown, the waterfront and our community. For more information about RiverFest, visit www.chestertownriverarts.org.

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