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RiverFest Schedule: Organizers ready to bring the thrill back to Port Neches

PORT NECHES — Port Neches’ annual RiverFest is scheduled for April 28 to May 2, and after taking a one-year hiatus, the Mid County community is a buzz with a host of old and new festival attractions, events and vendors.

Lance Bradley, RiverFest president, said his phone was ringing off the hook with potential vendors, businesses and rides ready to take over the festival.

“We’re obviously glad that we are having the event again this year,” he said. “It is one of the first events out of the box since the pandemic began. The food and craft vendor calls are ringing off the wall right now with everyone trying to get a spot after losing so much business last year. We can tell that people are ready to get out of the house and finally get back to some type of normalcy.”

To accommodate the large number of interests, Bradley said the food and vendor spots are expanded to make room for additional businesses.

“We are trying to accommodate everyone that’s called,” he said. “We don’t want to turn anyone away. I don’t know the exact numbers, currently, but I do know the numbers and interests have been exceptionally high, so we are expecting an excellent turnout.”

The festival will officially begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (April 28) with the opening of the carnival on Faith and Family Night.

A large crowd is seen at a previous Faith and Family Night. The 2021 festival will officially begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (April 28) with the opening of the carnival on Faith and Family Night. (Port Arthur News file photo)

In addition to the carnival and traditional vendors, the event will feature multiple opportunities for family gatherings including a horseshoe tournament, washer tournament, car show and treasure hunt.

Debbie Plaia, president of the Port Neches Chamber of Commerce, is excited to have almost all events including the classic car show back for 2021.

The classic car show at Port Neches Riverfront Park starts at 10 a.m. Saturday (May 1) and runs until 3 p.m.

This is the first time since 2019 that the car show will return to the festival. Passes are $25.

“We are excited to bring this back on board,” Plaia said. “We’ve got some new faces this year. We are excited to have Brandon Emmons with the C/TEN Club on board. He is bringing a new spin to the car show. We stepped it up a little, but we want to leave a little bit of it as a surprise, so that’s all I’m going to say. I will say that they are all excited to be outside again and showing off.”

The festival will also include seeing local talent and faces such as Mother of the Year, Cutest Baby, Best Pet and dance performances.

The only two events not returning are the Fun Run 5k and veteran’s parade.

Bradley said a few logistical concerns kept the two larger gatherings from occurring.

“Besides that, everything is coming back full swing,” he said. “Hopefully, one, the weather cooperates and, number two, people come out. It is exciting to be able to host this event again and we hope the community is just as excited about it as we are.”

Plaia echoed his sentiment.

“We’d love for everyone to come out and feel safe,” Plaia said. “Since it’s an outdoor event, we feel like it is safe. A lot of people have been vaccinated and those that haven’t are welcome to wear their masks and social distance.”

Hand-washing stations will be placed throughout festival grounds. Masks will not be required.

“We are taking the steps to be as safe as we can,” Plaia said. “We want everyone to be comfortable but still be able to come and have fun. So come out, bring your family and just enjoy!”

To purchase a Riverpass, visit pnriverfest.com.

Riverpasses are $45 and include all five days of rides. In person sales must be present to get their picture taken at the senior center located at 1006 Port Neches Ave.

Tickets purchased online will include an additional $6.75 charge per pass.

For more information on Riverfest, call the Port Neches Chamber of Commerce at 409-722-9154 or visit their official Facebook page at Port Neches RiverFest.

RiverFest schedule of events:

Saturday, April 24 

  • The annual Bar-B-Que Cookoff will kick-off activities Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Neches River Wheelhouse. 

Wednesday, April 28 

  • Faith and Family Night is Wednesday, April 28. The day will start with kick-off coffee at 8 a.m. at the Neches River Wheelhouse. The opening ceremony starts at 6 p.m. with Life Church praise and worship following at 6:10 p.m. Entertainment starts at 7:30 p.m. with a performance by Josh Baldwin. The carnival is open from 5-10 p.m. Tickets are $5.

Thursday, April 29

  • Thursday, April 29, is wristband night sponsored by Philpott Motors. The carnival and vendors are open from 5-10 p.m. A kid’s T-shirt contest will start at 6 p.m. Entertainment Thursday night features Running on Credit from 7-8 p.m., Curse and the Cure from 8:15-9:30 p.m. and closes out with La Roxx from 9:45- 11 p.m. Tickets for this night are $15.

Friday, April 30

  • The special needs session will take place on Friday, April 30, from noon to 2 p.m. before the carnival opens to the public at 5 p.m. Entertainment includes Joey Gree at 7 p.m., Roger Creager at 8:30 p.m. and Kevin Fowler at 10:30 p.m. The festival will close at midnight. Tickets are $20.

Saturday, May 1

  • Saturday’s schedules start with sport boat racing at 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. The classic car show starts Saturday at 10 a.m. Bow-tie DJ Services will be open for music, karaoke, trivia and prizes from 10-11 a.m. followed by several contests. The first contest is the Cutest Baby at 11 a.m. to noon, followed consecutively by Rapunzel and Moana, a performance by Danceworks, Tiger Rock of SETX and Debbie’s Dance. A brief interlude will occur at 5:45 p.m. with the sport awards ceremony. Entertainment will pick back up at 6:30 p.m. with Pop Gun. Dustin Sonnier will follow at 8 p.m. before the 9 p.m. firework display. Dustin Sonnier will continue his performance until 10 p.m. Wayne Toups will follow at 10:30 p.m. and close out the show at midnight. The carnival will be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $20 after 4 p.m. and $10 before. 

Sunday, May 2

  • The final day of the festival, Sunday, May 2, starts with another round of power boat racing from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Bow-tie entertainment will return from noon-1 p.m. The Miss Port Neches pageant winners will be announced at 1 p.m. at the Acadian Ambulance Pavilion, followed by the Mother of the Year award and pet show winner. The final round of boat race awards will be announced at 5:30 p.m. at the race stage. The carnival is open from noon-6 p.m. and vendors 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Read more RiverFest coverage:

After competing prior years in the Miss Port Neches Pageant, 17-year-old Graci Guilbeaux finally won her crown on March 27.

Thousands of people will participate in some form or fashion at this year’s Port Neches RiverFest, but the reigning mother of the year has a special group in mind.

After taking a year off due to COVID-19 restrictions, Port Neches’ annual RiverFest extravaganza is back. No one is more excited to return to the river than the 2021 boat racers.

 

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