Riverfest’s free fun for all the family

The eighth annual Riverfest is less than a month away. The annual free community event will take place on Saturday 16th May in the heart of the Isle of Wight, at the historic Newport Quay.

The event has all the feel of a traditional village fete, with many free activities for children. Local charities will be attending promoting the work they do in the community, helping people and the local environment. You can find out about the Island’s unique ecology and discover what lurks in the mud in the Medina river, thanks to the crew from the Medina Valley Centre!

There is no entrance fee as the Quay is owned by the IW Council, who support this event by not charging for its use. The event is sponsored by The Southern Co-operative and E.ON with Newport Parish Council giving ongoing financial support.

Riverfest is organised by The Footprint Trust, a local charity, which promotes sustainable living. The charity runs a number of projects that help people and their local environment, its most noted being WarmerWight- plus. With its energy partner E.ON, The Footprint Trust has provided over 50 grant-funded boilers to low income Island families in the last year.

At Riverfest you can talk to the staff from E.ON to see if you qualify for funding – dependent on certain benefits, having a gas boiler that’s broken, or not working properly, and that was installed before 2005. E.ON will also be available to talk to about their Affordable Warmth scheme, who could help with a part funded replacement gas boiler or free loft and cavity wall insulation.

Young people are at the centre of this event and perform at it and take an active role in many of the organisations taking place. Dance demonstrations proved very popular last year, so visitors will be pleased to see students from the LVB Dance Company of Newport, putting on vibrant energetic performances of modern and contemporary dance.

We will welcome the Ceri Irish Dancers – a family friendly dancing group and have been established for over 25 years on the Island and will be bringing their traditional and colourful performance to this year’s Riverfest.

PJ’s Theatre School Singers & Dancers will also be performing at the event. The school provides young people and children with a strong foundation in singing, dance, drama and mime. They cover most dance disciplines and cater for toddlers and teenagers! Salsa dancing will also be on show, and you might be given the opportunity to have a go too!

Isle of Wight Salsa was reformed in 2012 by a group of established salsa dancers on the Isle of Wight, with the aim of giving everyone more opportunities to dance salsa on the Island. They are a friendly club, with individuals at all levels of experience. They are non-profit making, so any surpluses are ploughed back into the club for special events, and to bring guest teachers over from the mainland. Classes are held in Ryde every Tuesday night at Haylands Farm PO33 3HU. www.isleofwightsalsa.co.uk or fb: iowsalsa

The launch of Riverfest will be announced by the arrival of the ever-popular Vectis Corps of Drums, who will be playing a medley of sea-inspired and traditional rousing music. Music and compering will be provided by Vectis Radio, who will be broadcasting live from the event. Young people can find out more about their free media training programme. When not being entertained by our dynamic community radio station you can enjoy the sounds from Short n Sweet – the Island’s well known vocal harmony duo.

Cowes Sailability Club will be sailing to Riverfest on their interesting crafts, Dougal and Zebedee! The Maritime Volunteer Service and Medina Valley Centre will also have their boats at the event. Those visiting can view historic boats from the Classic Boat Museum http://www.classicboatmuseum.org/museum.asp will be on show, along with vessels of all shapes and sizes that sail to this popular event. You might wish to have a paddle in a canoe, but they will have to look out for the notorious Crew of the Rose Pirates and the Wolfguard Vikings!

You will also be able to see the King Rag – a 17’ Clinker-built Fishing Dinghy built at Moorman Bros, Shanklin in 1966 at a cost of £130. She is still used for fishing and cruising in River Medina and The Solent.

On land you can meet members of the IW Search & Rescue formed in 2008 and have responded to over a hundred calls during that time. You can make a donation of find out how to become a volunteer. People Matter IW will be at the event and to give guidance to any adult who defines themselves as having support needs and carers of people who have support needs. Healthwatch – the health and social watchdog will be Riverfest. The Family Information Zone will be informing parents, children and young people about their service, and details of free activities.

Discover more about the wildlife and habitats on and around Newport’s rivers and the Island as whole, by visiting the exhibitions of the local Wildlife trust and Natural Enterprise . Pledge you support for by signing up for Gift to Nature. You can also see wooden items being crafted out of local coppiced wood, by local craftsman Frank Heap.

Fancy putting the kids or grandma inside a giant bubble? Then look out the professional bubbleologists, AmazeBubbles, as they will be on hand to keep the children of all ages entertained with their giant bubbles of all shapes and sizes!

Local traders support the event so that you can enjoy local food and drink, ranging from ice cream to vegetarian and meaty delights such as a real Isle of Wight Hog Roast, along with cakes and sweets and local fudge. Arts and crafts are also available at very reasonable prices. Organic beauty products will be one sale too.

Renewable technology also features at the event along with information on sustainable transport, such as cycling and public transport. You can also try your skills on a rifle range, have a go on a bouncy castle and test your strength on a traditional fairground striker! Dare you have a go on the massive super slide, or get your dad a glitter tattoo?

When walking to Riverfest visitors will pass trend, the UK’s first upcycling youth café – they will be at Riverfest this year selling things made from discarded materials. Digital Recycle, the Island’s leaders in reclamation of computers and IT equipment, will have a whole host of reclaimed reasonably priced computer equipment on sale. Quay Arts will promoting their free arts activities for young people as part of the IW Council’s Youth Offer programme.

At 2pm The Footprint Trust staff will be leading an Acorn Steps walk along the historic quayside. Suitable for everyone, including wheelchair users, this is a slow and gentle walk as part of the Acorn Steps walking programme, and as part of the Walking Festival. The walk should take about 30 minutes and starts from the reception area of The Riverside Centre – and it’s free of charge.

The Cycle Advocacy Group will be on hand to inform about the Island’s rights of way and cycle routes. You can also have a go on an Electric Bike courtesy of Blackman Power Bikes, and find how to donate your unwanted bikes to the Re-Cycle charity.

“We encourage everyone who can to walk, cycle or sail to Riverfest, leaving their car at home. Buses stop nearby too, and all buses lead to Newport. The event is a short walk from the bus station, and is served by footpaths and a cycle route. We all need to drive less and see more”

Said Ray Harrington-Vail, the event’s organiser.
The event focuses on the historic river Medina, internationally important for wildlife but also a great place to navigate by boat, or walk or cycle along its picturesque banks. Historically, a harbour and quay and a place of boat building and industry. Today boats are still repaired and serviced along its banks and quayside, old power stations and industrial manufacturing have been replaced by new technology focusing on natural energy. The town’s name comes from it being the New Port for the original capital of Carisbrooke.

You can read more about Riverfest on the Footprint Trust’s website, https://www.footprint-trust.co.uk/riverfest.html For the first time the event is being promoted in Hampshire and London, encouraging people to travel by public transport to visit Riverfest and other attractions, prior to the peak holiday season. This is part of the Drive Less – See More initiative.

The Trust’s website states,
“If you’re thinking of visiting the Island then make Riverfest part of your stay, fares from the mainland are generally cheaper at off-peak times, prior to the height of the tourist season. Many attractions are open and you can see what else the island has to offer on this site www.visitisleofwight.co.uk “

The event’s organiser Ray Harrington-Vail said,
“The Trust is very grateful to the Maritime Volunteer Service and the many volunteers who support the event, without which Riverfest would not happen. If you would like to get involved in fundraising, stewarding, organising etc please do get in touch.”

Riverfest 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 and the wider community
To sponsor this event or to find out about booking a stall please email ray@footprint-trust.co.uk or call Ray on 01983 822282.
Riverfest partner organisations
Gemma Lacey, Director Sustainability & Communications at The Southern
Co-operative, which is supporting Riverfest, said:

“As well as reducing the environmental impact of our own food stores and funeral care business, we’re keen to support our local communities to be more environmentally sustainable, and this is why we’re pleased to be part of Riverfest.”

” The Southern Co-operative has always had a purpose beyond just making a
profit and is committed to being a responsible and sustainable business.
We are an independent co-operative owned by our 150,000 members, with nearly 200 food stores and funeral branches across southern England.
We are a
strong advocate of local food and drink, working with local farmers and producers to expand our ‘Local Flavours’ range – sourcing more than 350
products from over 30 local producers on the Island alone – as well as our support for local food community networks.
The opening of our new
Freshwater store – a flagship store for our Local Flavours range – sees an even wider range of local food and drink under one roof; with regular
opportunities to meet suppliers in store and enjoy tastings.”

Big thanks go to our sponsors The Southern Co-operative, and those who give financial and other support including Newport Parish Council, Natural Enterprise and local businesses, such as the Odessa Boatyard, Engenius http://www.engenius.co.uk/ and Solar & Renewable http://www.solarandrenewable.co.uk/

The Footprint Trust is grateful for the support from many organisations, these include…