Riverfest Celebrates Life And Culture On The Cape Fear River

Riverfest is a 28-year tradition that celebrates life and culture on the Cape Fear River and provides endless hours of family fun. This year’s action-packed festival (October 6-8) kicks into high gear from 5pm-11pm on Friday night with the “Battle of the River” riverfront showdown that pits local bands in a fierce musical competition at Battleship Park, adjacent to the Battleship North Carolina.

On Saturday and Sunday, Downtown Wilmington comes to life with a street fair that winds its way along the Cape Fear River. Continuous live entertainment underscores the influence of arts and culture on the Cape Fear lifestyle. Outdoor stages feature a variety of dance and music performances. The Gospel Jamboree stage offers uplifting spiritual music (10am-8pm, Sat. & 11am-5pm, Sun.). On Saturday evening, “The Imitations” take center stage until 11pm. Both days, Lucky’s Stage features a mix of local and regional talent in many genres, including a mystery national headliner with Cape Fear roots. Set against the backdrop of the Cape Fear River, the area’s rich heritage is further demonstrated by more than 200 Arts & Crafts vendors selling art and handmade crafts such as pottery, jewelry, sculptures, paintings, photography, baskets, holiday items, and more. Over 30 food vendors serve a variety of edible festival treats.

Art and garden lovers can experience the natural beauty of 10 fabulous public and private gardens enhanced by art and music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 5pm during the 4th Annual Art in the Gardens Tour. Tours begin at the Arboretum at New Hanover County Cooperative Extension Center (6306 Oleander Dr., Wilmington; 910-452-6393; www.gardeningnhc.org). Admission charge for tours.

For film buffs, the Riverfest Independent Film Showcase (www.cfifn.org) screens local independent shorts. Locally-produced shorts and the feature film “Four the Roses” screens on Friday at 7pm at Hell’s Kitchen (116 Princess Street). On Saturday evening (7pm-until), indie features include “Guy in Row Five,” with screenings at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside’s Magnolia Room. Admission charge for screenings.

There’s more for kids at this year’s RiverFest than ever. Returning are the ever-popular Children’s Stage (kids entertain with song, dance, magic) and the KidzZone at the Cotton Exchange, with activities such as face/hair painting, games, amusements, arts/crafts, clowns, rides, and more. This year’s festival also includes an Invasion of the Pirates Treasure Hunt. On Saturday at 11am, pirates distribute free Treasure Hunt maps. Kids who stop at all the places on the treasure map will receive a pirate outfit to wear during the 2nd Annual Invasion of the Pirates Flotilla. This year’s Invasion of the Pirates Flotilla (www.invasionofthepirates.com) is ‘bigger and badder’ than before. The pirate-themed flotilla begins Saturday at dusk on the Cape Fear River with boats of all sizes that are decorated as pirate ships. Sinbad will arrive on the Meka II. Fireworks follow at 9pm to celebrate the pirates’ successful siege.

Other events include the Great Waiter’s Wine Race (CFCC parking lot, Sunday, 2pm), the 4th Riverfest Skateboard Competition (Sat/Sun, 10am, CFCC parking lot), the 16th Run the River 8K Race (Sunday, 8am), and the 4th Riverfest Wakeboarding Competition (Sat/Sun., 10am, Conlin dock, Estell Lee Dr. Registration at 9:00am; www.carolinawakeseries.com). There’s also a Classic Car Show (Sat.), Antique Car show (Sun.), karate, cheerleading and gymnastic demonstrations.

Experience the fun, food, excitement, and arts as we celebrate the life and culture of the Cape Fear River during Riverfest 2006 (October 6-8, 2006). For more information, please visit www.wilmingtonriverfest.com or call 910-452-6862. For a FREE Visitors Guide for Historic Wilmington & North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast, call 1-866-266-9690 or visit website www.gocapefearcoast.com for a complete Calendar of Events.

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