Front Royal shifts Shenandoah River celebration

Front Royal locals can honor the care and conservation of the Shenandoah River at Celebrate the River Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Eastham Park.

For the past few years, the Shenandoah Riverkeeper and the Potomac Riverkeeper Network hosted Riverfest at Shenandoah River State Park. Riverkeeper Mark Frondorf put the event on pause for a year to regroup and get situated to start up again in 2016, and the Town of Front Royal has taken the reins to give residents a similar 2015 celebration for free.

Although Riverfest has featured more hands-on activities like the popular cardboard boat race, several groups and businesses will be at Celebrate the River Day to educate attendees about opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and other water recreation activities.

Frondorf said that those most invested in the river’s well-being tend to participate in those activities and that “they become the best stewards and the best advocates of the river.”

“This is going to be more of an observational day where folks are just getting familiar and knowledgeable of the opportunities,” he said. “It’s important to know that the community and government is doing what it can to protect the environment.”

The Shenandoah Riverkeeper tent will be set up among others offering opportunities to learn more about the vitality of the river. A representative from the Front Royal Wastewater Treatment Plant will show residents what it does to keep the river clean and how everyone has a stake in the river’s health.

Front Royal Town Manager Steve Burke said that hosting the event at Eastham will also provide an opportunity for residents to appreciate the hard work put into the Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards’ Royal Shenandoah Greenway.

Warren County Parks and Recreation representatives will speak with attendees about activities along the river, and event organizer Tim Smith said Warren County will be conducting a presentation on water safety.

Radio station 95.3 will have its own tent and the Humane Society of Warren County will also be present with some animals up for adoption at the new Warren County Dog Park within Eastham.

Smith recognized the significance of holding the event for people within Front Royal’s river community, and said he was able to gather interested organizations together to hold Celebrate the River Day within a few weeks of taking the baton from the Shenandoah Riverkeeper.

“I’m just hoping they can continue doing what they’ve done in the past,” he said.

Burke agreed, saying, “We’re simply hoping to bridge this year so that the Riverkeeper’s event next year can fill the need to recognize the significance that the Shenandoah River has on our community,”

Frondorf is gearing up to bring back the competitions and river activities at the 2016 Riverfest, and said he’s already met up with Warren County officials to begin planning for next year.

“We’re definitely looking at what we can do to improve the event from an organizational standpoint,” he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com