RIVERFest invites public to kick off Lafayette River Restoration

Lafayette River RIVERFest

Lafayette River RIVERFest

The public will have the chance to celebrate a new plan to bring back the Lafayette River – and learn fun, easy ways to help at home – during Lafayette RiverFest, a free, day-long festival with live music, fishing contests, free boat trips, children’s games, how-to workshops, river art, education vessels and more.

The event will be Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at a first-ever location for a large family festival – the 500 block of Mayflower Road, a semi-circle of public riverfront in the heart of Norfolk’s Colonial Place residential neighborhood.
“We wanted to bring this festival to the people who know the Lafayette as their home river,” said Elizabeth River Project’s Executive Director Marjorie Mayfield Jackson. The Elizabeth River Project is presenting the festival with the City of Norfolk, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and more than a dozen other community partners.
With 24 tents’ worth of hands-on activities, free bike “valet parking” and satellite locations for the fishing tournament (Haven Creek boat launch) and canoe, kayak and stand-up paddle races (Lakewood Park), the bustling day will showcase a restoration plan to be presented by community partners on April 27 to make the Lafayette branch of the Elizabeth safe again for swimming and eating oysters by 2014.
Fleta Jackson of the City of Norfolk serves as event chairperson. “I’m especially excited about the childrens’ activities that we have lined up – everything from a Scoop the Poop relay race to dog parades and children’s ecoart,” said Jackson.
Christy Everett, Hampton Roads director for Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said her organization will be on hand to offer free canoe trips and workboat trips to demonstrate the come-back already underway for the Norfolk oyster, through means such as innovative “reef balls” that the foundation began using on the Lafayette last year. “It’s very encouraging to see the amazing results so far,” Everett said.
Both the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Elizabeth River Project will dock signature environmental education vessels at the festival site.
The Elizabeth River Project’s Learning Barge – 120′ by 32′ – arrives late this week to dock on the Lafayette branch of the Elizabeth for the first time, and will remain docked there through June for student field trips.
Elizabeth River Project also will debut a new program at the festival, River Star Homes. Patterned after Elizabeth River Project’s successful River Star Businesses and River Star Schools programs, River Star Homes will recognize citizens with free yard flags when they agree to simple practices at home that help restore the river.

Lafayette RiverFest activities include:

Music (main festival site)

10 a.m.        The Delvers

Noon            Julie Clark

2:30              Zen Monkeys

Fishing (Haven Creek) with Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association

6:30 a.m.–noon             Catch and Release Tournament ($15)

Costumed Dog Parades (main festival site) Norfolk SPCA & Animal Management (River-related costumes)

11:30 a.m-noon

2-2:30 p.m.

Paddle Races (Lakewood Park) with Mid-Atlantic Paddlers Association

Advanced division – 6 miles

Recreational division — 1.5 miles

9 a.m. registration ($15)

Rain Barrel Workshop (main festival site) with Mike’s Rain Barrels

10:30-11:30 a.m. ($55, includes rain barrel)

Limited Space — Pre-registration required by calling 441.1347

Free on the Water

All Day — Learning Barge ERP (main festival site)

11 a.m. and 2 p.m. – Canoe Trips (main festival site) CBF

2  p.m. – CBF education vessel Bea Hayman Clark (main festival site)

Pre-registration required for CBF trips online at rsvp@cbf.org or 622-1964

1 p.m. – Kayak Tours (Haven Creek) City of Norfolk

Other Events

 Scoop-the-Poop Relay Race

 Original River Art for Sale (local artists)

 Green Gardening Education (Hermitage Museum and Gardens and partners)

 Build a Buoy (NOAA)

 My Flush Counts (HRSD)

 Booksigning with Mike D’Orso

Co-author with Ted Danson of OCEANA: Our Endangered Oceans and What We can Do To Save Them

 Children’s Art & Games

 Fresh Local Fare

The rain date is Sun., May 1, 12 – 4 pm. Full information: www.elizabethriver.org.

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