Riverfest – a celebration of river and community life

The River Medina has a long history, and once carried goods into the New Port, which served the Island’s capital – Carisbrooke. Today the River and its banks are important habitats for rare and interesting wildlife and a place for recreation and leisure. The Riverfest will celebrate the heritage, community, businesses and wildlife associated with this historic river.

Riverfest 2010 on Saturday 15th May – will be the third annual event. It promises to be a fun family event focusing on the Medina. The event starts at 11am with a flotilla of boats at 12 noon.

The event aims to achieve the following;

· Raise awareness of the environmental and leisure benefits of the water environment

· Promote sustainable water use and conservation of wetland habitats

· To promote organisations and businesses with an interest in the River Medina

Riverfest will be free to the public, thanks to support from Newport Parish Council, the Environment Agency and sponsorship from the Newport Beacon, Odessa Boatyard, Wight Link and other businesses. The event has been made possible by the Isle of Wight Council, who have given free use of Newport historic working Quay. It is being organised by the Footprint Trust, a local educational charity.

Traditional Victorian funfair stalls will be there, including a coconut shy, archery and swinging boats. The IW Council’s Play Rangers will be organising play activities with a watery theme. The Medina Valley Centre’s Eco-Challenger will be on show – giving children the chance of making toys powered by the sun and seeing the fascinating creatures that lurk in the depths of the River. Estuary related fun for children of all ages will be on offer.
The Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and the Council’s Countryside Rangers will be on hand to talk about the Island’s important habitats. The Trust is also arranging children’s activities with a green theme.

The Wight Pirates – early 18th Century Pirate and Smuggler re-enactors will be invading the Riverfest – so watch out! The Maritime Volunteer Service will have their Command & Control Unit operating on the day, as part of Livex Exercise taking place on the Solent. Isle of Wight Events stewards, the Scouts and Pan Junior Wardens will be guiding and assisting the public. The Police and Fire Service will also be in attendance.

A variety of organisations and charities associated with the river and the wider community will be at the event including the Royal Naval Association. One the Riverfest’s biggest supporters is Matt O’Crowley skipper of the world’s smallest commercial paddle steamer – PS Monarch. He is arranging for boats of all shapes, ages and sizes to form a flotilla, which will arrive at noon, sponsored by Red Funnel. The Monarch will be offering trips along the river, as will other boats and crafts.

The Paddle Steamer Monarch is unique not only to the Isle of Wight, but also the world owing to her size and unique design. Powered by a steam engine and boiler alone she not only commemorates the time when paddle steamers were a regular sight on the Solent but also when they were built by the shipyards based on the River Medina. Shortly after the Riverfest, Monarch will be travelling to a secret location to be filmed as part of the BBC’s Edwardian Farm series. Volunteers from the Island’s Classic Boat Museum will also be on hand to promote nautical heritage.

Businesses specialising in local food and crafts will be at the Riverfest. Isle of Wight Bacon Company, will be providing catering and refreshments at Riverfest 2010 featuring local free range pork direct from their Godshill farm and Isle of Wight Beef Burgers.

“ It has a taste unlike any meat you will source elsewhere and Riverfest 2010 offers the opportunity to taste the cooked product and to buy the meat products to take home.”
Said Katie Radburn of the IW Bacon Company.

The Bargeman’s Rest will be treating its patrons to a special Riverfeast to celebrate this year’s Riverfest. The Riverside Centre will be open providing light snacks and liquid refreshments.
Visitors will also have the opportunity of seeing a wood being worked in a traditional way on a medieval polelathe. Wight Woodturners will be impressing visitors with their skills. The Tools & Trades History Society will be displaying tools associated with crafts associated with river life.

Island 2000’s ‘Gift To Nature’ scheme will be hosting two walks to celebrate the natural heritage of the Quay and the Medina and the partnership of organisations which created the Riverfest idea, the Newport Rivers group, will be running river activities and displays throughout the day. Wildlife enthusiasts will be showing the important creatures of the deep that frequent the river.

The Footprint Trust is keen to promote wise use of water and will be giving away free water saving devices and guidance on how to reduce water consumption. Local business Engenius will be on hand to explain rainwater harvesting systems. Shore Solutions plantsman Les Brown will be on hand to advise on heritage plants that benefit wildlife, brighten up the garden and are drought tolerant.

Families will have the opportunity to find about the new ‘Energetic’ training scheme, which will help them save £100 on their fuel bills.

The organisers are interested in hearing from other businesses and organisations that might wish to attend. They can contact the Footprint Trust on 01983 82-22-82.

‘This year’s event will have a greater diversity of stalls and activities than in previous years. We are hoping to make Riverfest a great annual event – small, fun and informative!’
Said Ray Harrington-Vail of the Footprint Trust.


For more information contact the Footprint Trust on 01983 822282.

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Regular buses from Ryde and Cowes to Newport