Riverfest – bigggest ever

Last May some 4,000 people flocked to the Riverfest event on Newport’s historic Quay, making it the largest community event in the county town of the Isle of Wight. The fourth annual Riverfest is again to be organised by the Footprint Trust as a celebration of river and community life. There will be no admission charge and many children’s activities will be free. The date for your diaries is Saturday 21st May 2011 from 12 noon.

A flotilla with vessels of all shapes, ages and sizes, will once again prove to be popular. The highlight of the day will be the arrival of a tall ship from The Little Brig Sailing Trust, a charity that operates the world’s smallest tall ships to provide the complete sailing experience to young people. The ship will be traditionally rigged with two masts, 10 sails, and one hundred ropes. We have heard that the notorious Wight Pirates – early 18th Century Pirate and Smuggler re-enactors – will be capturing a tall ship and then invading Riverfest – so watch out!

There will be an array of local food and crafts. The Isle of Wight Bacon Company will be providing catering and refreshments featuring local free range pork direct from their Godshill farm and visitors will be tempted by Isle of Wight Beef Burgers and other tasty local foods. The event is supported by IW Pannier Market who will have on display an array of local crafts and produce. The Pannier Market was set up as a not-for-profit, local community-based enterprise, and acts as a focus and showcase for local produce and traders as well as giving marketers and shoppers a flexible and vibrant trading opportunity.

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.

Local community and water-based organisations will be present including Newport Rowing Club, The Classic Boat Museum, Royal Naval Association, Maritime Volunteer Service, Medway Queen Preservation Society and the Medina Valley Centre. Medina Mariners Association members will also be on hand to show the popular Mirror Dinghy. This little boat has been around since 1962 and over 70,000 have been built. It is named after the Daily Mirror newspaper and was designed by Jack Holt and TV do-it-yourself expert Barry Bucknell. Boats trips will be available on a variety of craft thanks to the involvement of local boating enthusiasts. The Classic Boat Museum will have an impressive display of Olympic class boats on show with listings of all the medals won by GB competitors from 1896 to 2008.

Traditional Victorian funfair stalls will be at Riverfest 2011, 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 of 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 and the Medina Valley Centre will be on hand to talk about the Island’s important habitats. The Trust is also arranging children’s activities with a green and messy theme!

Gift to Nature will also provide activities with their pavement chalks and the never-ending doodle pad for children wanting to try out some river-inspired art; the Newport Rivers Group will be on hand with information on Medina walks, along with Wessex Land and Water who can help explain everything you ever needed to know about river restoration.

At Riverfest you will have a chance to meet island anglers Dan Ross and Mike Hopwood who set up wightfishing.co.uk to promote angling and protect fish in and around the Isle of Wight. Their busy popular forum now receives half a million hits a month.

Visit the Southern Water ‘water café’ for a refreshing drink, useful freebies and lots of helpful information and advice on saving water.

Isle of Wight Events stewards will be guiding and assisting the public. The Police and Fire Service will also be in attendance.

This year’s event is being supported by Newport Parish Council, Southern Water and Natural Enterprise, as part of their Newport Rivers project to improve a prominent section of the Medina, funded by the SITA Trust’s Enhancing Nature programme.

“The Footprint Trust charity would like to thank for the help they receive from the Newport Harbour Master Wayne Pritchard and his staff. Free use of the public quay has been given by the Isle of Wight Council with support and help the Council’s Events Team.“
Said Ray Harrington-Vail of the Footprint Trust.


Editors Notes…

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 2011 will be a fun family event focusing on the Medina. It is being organised by the Footprint Trust, a local educational charity.

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

The arrival of a tall ship from The Little Brig Sailing Trust, a charity that operates the world’s smallest tall ships, will be at about 2.45pm, depending on the tide.