Park Celebrates 100-year Anniversary with RiverFest/Triathlon


Perfect weather coupled with a great reason to celebrate met happily at Lake James State Park Sept. 17 with the 13th annual Catawba RiverFest. To make the day even more festive, McDowell Trails Association put on its Lake James Triathlon earlier in the day. In addition, the statewide 100-year RiverFestanniversary of North Carolina State Parks was honored on its yearlong tour of the 40 parks and recreation areas within the Tar Heel State. Boosted by more than 100 race participants and their raucous cheering squads, the early crowds at RiverFest were bigger than usual for the event which is sponsored by Lake James State Park, Catawba Valley Heritage Alliance and the Friends of Lake James State Park.

“It was a beautiful day to come to the park and celebrate all of the accomplishments we’ve achieved as a state when it comes to providing recreational opportunities for the people of North Carolina and preserving the incredible diversity and natural wonders that are protected within the park system,” said Park Superintendent Nora Coffey. “We’ve come a long way in 100 years and we’re grateful to all of the friends and neighbors who came to RiverFest to help us celebrate and inspire the next 100 years.”

The Friends of Lake James State Park is committed to being there to support the park every step of the way. Friends group volunteers manned the iconic “tin shed” display, encouraging folks to take advantage of the wide variety of outdoor activities available and get involved with the park. “Most of the year our group works behind-the scenes,” said Friends president Eric Jenkins. “RiverFest is our opportunity to get out in front and spread our message on the importance of Lake James State Park to the quality of life of this region.”

With live music, great food, ranger-led boat tours and kayak demos, there was a great vibe throughout the day under the beautiful September sunshine; and lots to look forward to in future Catawba RiverFest celebrations.

Special thanks to all of the event sponsors and partners who donated time, money, goods and/or services, including McDowell Trails Association, RiverKeeper Foundation, Catawba Valley Heritage Alliance, Duke Energy, Crescent Communities, Burke County, McDowell Early College, Appalachian Mountain Sports, CBS Sports, Codex Sound, Good Wood Pizza, CC’s Hot Dogs, and musical acts: Strictly Clean and Decent and Alan Darveaux with Slight Departure. Also, a big thanks to all of our exhibitors park staff and volunteers.