Park Celebrates Another Successful RiverFest


The 14th annual Catawba RiverFest, Lake James State Park’s signature event, enjoyed enthusiastic crowds, new activities and exhibitors, expanded entertainment and food options and perfect weather. The 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. Part of that enthusiasm may have had to do with the realization of the park’s 30-year anniversary (see related story).

“It’s very gratifying to see folks come out and celebrate with us,” said Park Ranger Kevin Bischof, who coordinates the festival. “The Catawba River and Lake James play such an important role in peoples’ lives here. It’s nice to set aside a day to acknowledge that and recommit ourselves to protecting it.”

Since 2010, the Friends of Lake James State Park has been 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. “We anticipate this event all year long,” said Friends president Eric Jenkins. “RiverFest is our opportunity to get out in front of the public and spread our message on the importance of Lake James State Park to the quality of life of this region. As an organization, we are convinced of the potential this place has to drive regional economic prosperity and outdoor recreation. We encourage anyone who feels the same way to join us in this effort.” 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 RiverKeeper Foundation, Catawba Valley Heritage Alliance, Duke Energy, Crescent Communities, Burke County, McDowell Early College, CBS Sports, Codex Sound, Overmountain Cycles, and musical acts: Piedmont Natural Grass and Alan Darveaux with Slight Departure. Also, a big thanks to all of our exhibitors park staff and volunteers.