Great Jamestown RiverWalk Festival

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Scenic view of the Chadakoin River.
Scenic view of the Chadakoin River.

Article Contributed by
Julia Eppehimer

The sidewalk along the Chadakoin will be bustling Sunday, June 28 with food vendors, crafters, games and educational experiences. Jamestown Now, along with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, Cummins Engine and Southern Tier Brewing Company are sponsoring the first annual Great Jamestown RiverWalk Festival from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“The whole point of the riverwalk festival is to get people to discover the riverwalk and walk around,” Mike Dykeman, Jamestown Now founder said. “There are a lot of people in this area who are not aware of it, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful area.”
The idea for the riverwalk festival came to them in the fall, and there has been an excited buzz about it ever since.
“We started talking about this in late fall, early winter,” Dykeman explained. “And as we developed what it was going to be about, in very early March we launched an event page on Facebook and immediately got tons of interest in this, both from vendors and the public.”
In its first year, the event has garnered 46 vendors to line up along the riverwalk between the Black Stone building and the train station. Word of mouth from the excited public helped boost the popularity of the upcoming event.
In order to get the public excited, Jamestown Now also hosted a logo design contest, which was open for amateurs and professionals alike. “To get interest in the new event, and just to get the community involved, we held a logo contest,” Dykeman said. Ashley Ordines’ design was chosen as the winner. “When you look at this logo…here’s the riverwalk, but here’s also downtown, so it kind of ties everything together.”
And that’s exactly what the committee for Jamestown Now hopes to do, tie everything together. “We really want our events to be outdoors,” Dykeman said. “Because that brings people downtown and walking around. So if you do an event indoors, then it’s only about that one particular location.”
Rain or shine, they will be downtown promoting the best of Jamestown on Sunday. And there will be plenty to do, all day long. Before the event begins, AM Rotary is sponsoring a race, which will raise money to further fund the riverwalk construction.
After the race, the booths will open at 10 a.m. and remain opened until 5 p.m. There will be multiple artists and crafters, including several photographers, jewelry makers, and a vendor who takes used clothing and turns them into new designs.
A whole block of children’s activities will be available to keep the young ones entertained as well. Eventz by Scott will have a bounce house, bingo, face painting, and many other games. Food vendors, each with unique fare, will keep visitors full.
But the festival is not simply food and fun, it will also be educational. Infinity, Striders, the Audubon Society, Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Chautauqua County Healthy Network, Grow Jamestown, and the Fenton History Museum will all be on site to provide information and learning opportunities.
“Music wise, there will be about 12-14 students from the Infinity Music Program scattered throughout the riverwalk,” Dykeman explained. “Fenton will also be conducting tours during the day of the riverwalk.”
When the booths close at 5, the lights come down on the stage, where the local band Smackdab will perform a 2-hour concert. A fitting end to a day filled with activities.
This is one of three events put on by the Jamestown Now Association. They also host the ChalkWalk and the Sauce Off, which are both in their fourth years. “Hopefully this one is a good one like the other ones and this will be every year,” Dykeman said.
They hope next year to have more of the riverwalk open and expand along both sides of the Chadakoin. Two footbridges connecting the two sides of the river are set to be constructed before next summer.
Jamestown Now aims to have four events each year, one for each season. “Sooner or later we’ll come up with the right winter event, and then we’ll have one for every season,” Dykeman smiled. Ironically, the organization was first formed in the winter and started to plan a winter event. But that year there was no snow.
Thankfully, there will be no snow at this event on Sunday, either, but there will be plenty to do. “This is a great family event. The riverwalk is so beautiful; they can bring the kids down, spend the afternoon there,” Dykeman said.
Because of a few people who cared about Jamestown and came together to promote it, the city now has three exciting events throughout the year, and hopefully a fourth. When some people put in a little effort, the community becomes a better place to live.
More information about the event can be found on the Facebook page: The Great Jamestown RiverWalk Festival. To contact the organization, email JamestownNow@gmail.com or call 716-483-5772.

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