For the second consecutive year, the Brownwood Jaycees are again hosting RiverFest following a near two-decade hiatus. This year’s event will once again be held at Riverside Park from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday.
Brownwood Jaycees President Amanda Leija said the timing of this year’s RiverFest is a bit different from last year. “Last year, we hosted RiverFest in August,” Leija said. “We decided to move it back to July 4 because that was the original time frame of the event for several years before we revitalized it last year.”
A popular event returning this year is the Chick-fil-A Raft Race. The entry fee is $25 per raft with entrants being judged in the categories of single, double and groups. Prizes will be awarded for fastest raft, best looking and most creative use of materials. The “Titanic” award will be presented to the owner of the raft to experience the most dramatic sinking.
“Last year, we had a lot of rafts that did great and some that struggled,” Leija said. “The ‘Titanic’ award will be presented to the raft, if there is one, with the most epic sink.”
To register, visit brownwoodjcs.com. Entries will also be received until 11 a.m. the day of the event. The anticipated start time is 1 p.m.
Leija said the raft race committee promotes a safe, family-oriented event. “We encourage all participants to act in a responsible sportsman-like manner, obey all safety requirements and raft race rules, assist their fellow rafters when necessary, and above all, enjoy the event. Remember, safety comes first. Watch out for fellow rafters, lend assistance when needed, and have fun.”
As part of the registration process, all participants will be required to sign a risk awareness acknowledgement and assumption of risk and release liability agreement. The race course will start and finish in front of Riverside Park. “Last year, the race was 100 meters,” Leija said. “But due to the flooding, we have decided to make the course 200 meters this year.”
Due to the nature of the event, several rules have been established for the raft races, including:
n No alcohol is to be consumed before or during the race.
n All entries will be required to check in between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. for judging of the most creative and best looking awards.
n All rafts must be of homemade construction. No commercially manufactured nautical parts are allowed.
n All sheet metal raw edges need to be turned over and taped. Any protruding long bolts are to be sawed off, filed and taped.
n All entries must be solely human powered and self-propelled and make use of poles, oars, paddles, paddlewheels, sails, propellers, flippers, etc. or any combination thereof.
No one under the age of 18 may participate or be on a vessel during the race.
Each participant must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket at all times during the event.
All entries must display their competition number in plain sight on both sides of the vessel.
Anyone exhibiting unsafe behavior will be disqualified and could be permanently banned from the event.
All rafts must be removed from the bayou at the end of the event and discarded appropriately.
Several children’s activities will also be available, including 13 inflatables, with seven including large waterslides. “There is going to be a lot for the kids,” Leija said. The entry fee into RiverFest is $2 for children 12 and under and $3 for everyone 13 and above. “The entry fee for the kids will include access to all of the activities in the children’s area, including the bounce house carnival,” Leija said. “They won’t have to pay any extra for the bounce houses.” Organizers are encouraging parents to bring swimsuits, towels and sunblock.
The RiverFest Cook Off will begin July 3 and continue through July 4. The categories to be judged will be brisket, chicken and ribs, with the exception of baby back. A cooker meeting will be Sunday at 6 p.m. in the BBQ tent. Entry fee for the cook off is $125 for one or all of the categories. Awards, which will be announced Monday afternoon will include cash prizes for first thru third places. The top three in each category will earn an 80% payback. “The more entries, the higher the prizes,” Leija said. Also part of the event will be the “Jackpot Beans” category which carries a $25 entry, with a 100% payback for the top three places. For more information about the cook off, contact Kim Garner at 325-260-3785.
As with so many other community events, the Heartland Cruisers will host a car show, with many classic vehicles being displayed. To enter a vehicle in the show, contact Pat McLaughlin at 325-642-6809.
With the growth of the event, several more vendors will be on hand at this year’s RiverFest. Aside from the food vendors, Knockerball will be available as well as canoe and kayak rental. “The rentals will be good for those who would like to get on the bayou before and after the raft races,” Leija said.
Other vendors will be onsite selling hand crafted jewelry, woodwork and art, T-shirts, antiques and crafts. Community organizations will also be represented. The State of Texas Jaycees organization will also be on hand, selling raffle tickets for a gun.
The Jaycees food booth will feature “Twisted Taters” and pulled pork and mac and cheese egg rolls. Other food items will include sno-cones, candy and BBQ.
Leija said she was excited about RiverFest. “This is an opportunity for everyone to see what we can and are willing to do in our community.”
According to the Web site, “the Brownwood United States Junior Chamber, or more commonly known as Jaycees is a leadership training and civic organization for people between the ages of 18 and 40. Areas of emphasis are business development, management skills, individual training, community service and international connections.
For more information about RiverFest or the Brownwood Jaycees, contact Leija at 979-219-1980.