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June 11, 2014

Riverwalk Festival grows, adds agricultural feature

By Sarah Wojcik
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Curt Jensen and his daughter, Clair, 2, enjoy the carousel at the 2013 Utica Riverwalk Festival.

UTICA — Utica’s premier summer event is rolling back into town June 18-22 with a wide array of events and several new features, including the Great Lakes Agriculture Fair and a beer tent.

Along with the additions, the third annual Riverwalk Festival will resurrect old favorites, including a carnival that will spill out into Auburn Road this year, a grand fireworks display Saturday night, live music, more than 20 vendors, free parking and complimentary shuttle service.

Starting June 16, the city will begin phases of road closures that will shut down Auburn and Cass roads through the downtown area during the festival.

The goal of the event is to bring people to the small historic district of downtown Utica. Last year, co-chair John Sattmann estimated several thousand people attended. This year, he said he hopes for at least 10,000 to pass through the five-day festival.

The Great Lakes Agriculture Fair Association, the nonprofit group that facilitates the state fair, will bring a petting zoo featuring at least 30 different types of animals, an exotic bird cage, educational family exhibits about how food originates, vendors and Michigan food.

“This is a purely Michigan event — all the vendors and people participating are from Michigan,” said co-chair Linda Davis-Kirksey. “We’ve got great main stage entertainment featuring R&B, classic rock and country music. We also have a mentalist.”

The main stage will be centered near the library and also will showcase health and fitness demonstrations, including Bokwa and Zumba, which are both types of group cardio workouts.

The beer tent, sponsored by the Utica and Eastpointe Lions clubs, will be situated in the Utica Public Library parking lot and serve specialty brews and Michigan wines Thursday through Sunday.

Clinton River Canoe & Kayak, a festival sponsor and livery based in downtown Utica, will offer kayak and canoe voyages down the Clinton River from Utica’s new access point near Memorial Park Thursday night.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get your families out and come out,” Davis-Kirksey said.

Sattmann said the DDA still is searching for a sponsor to fund the fireworks display, as well as more volunteers. For more information, call (248) 891-2164.

For more information about the festival, a day-by-day schedule of events, or parking, visit www.uticaevents.com.