POUGHKEEPSIE – The RiverFest celebration at Waryas Park returns to Poughkeepsie starting today (Friday) and lasts all weekend. Poughkeepsie businessman Los Wood revived the festival in 2021 after the city had gone 15 years without a summer celebration.
RiverFest brings carnival rides, food vendors, several musical performances of many genres, and various informational booths, crafts, and more to Waryas Park beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, August 5. On Saturday, a parade beginning at the Earline Patrice Mansion Square Park will begin at 11:00 a.m. and travel to the park (the parade route is at bottom of the story). RiverFest is open from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. A fireworks display will take place at the park on Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. according to Mr. Wood.
Poughkeepsie Common Councilmember Yvonne Flowers purchased 100 wristbands to distribute to children between the ages of 11 and 19 who participate in the parade. The wristbands allow kids to ride the carnival rides for free on Saturday. Children must register with Ms. Flowers at Mansion Square Park before the parade starts and they will receive their wristbands at the end of the parade. The limited number of wristbands will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.
“I brought back RiverFest last year and it was a tremendous success,” said Wood, owner of Gennie’s Soul Food on Hooker Avenue. “This year I have worked with community leaders and sponsors to make it even better, including a parade and fireworks.” Wood advanced tens of thousands of dollars this year for the carnival rides and other expenses to make the festival come to life.
Robert Pemberton and Joe Stratford, leaders of Stop The Violence Movement (STVM) are helping with this year’s event along with Bridging the Gap to Gun Violence and several other community groups. “This event is important because the community has had enough. Gun violence should not become a norm and it should be something the whole community should be against. There is nothing political about saying Stop the Gun Violence, it is just said louder, and felt stronger when we come together and say it,” Pemberton exclaimed, adding “This event proves that good collaborations can work.”
Dutchess CountyExecutive Marc Molinaro has agreed to run a county bus on Saturday from Mansion Square Park to John Flowers Circle at RiverFest every hour. Riders will be charged regular fares and the bus will begin the shuttle at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday and run every hour until 7:15 p.m. Saturday night.
The parade steps off from Earline Patrice Mansion Square Park at 11:00 a.m. and travels west on Mansion Street, turns left on North Bridge Street, then turns right on Mill Street. The parade will march down Mill Street and turn left on North Clover Street and proceed to Main Street where marchers will turn right on Main Street and finish at the John Flowers Memorial Circle at Waryas Park.