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Posted on Thu. Jun. 23, 2011 - 12:01 am EDT

Zip line adds thrills to 2nd RiverFest

All-day celebration of city's rivers has food, boating, art, music.

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River fun

What: RiverFest celebrates our rivers with music, art, food and fun along the St. Joseph River.

When: 9 a.m.-midnight Saturday

Where: Indiana University- Purdue University Fort Wayne, 2101 Coliseum Blvd. E.



This is only the second year for RiverFest, but event planners already have added an exciting attraction: a zip line that stretches across the St. Joseph River.

The festival Saturday along the banks of the St. Joseph River at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne celebrates the city's rivers. It's a place to enjoy food, music, boat rides, art and — for those brave enough — a ride across the river.

The 500-foot zip line will start near the Ron Venderly Family Bridge on the river's east side. Riders will zip over to the west side. Riders have to be between 70 and 270 pounds and must sign a waiver before zipping.

Dennis Robinson of Visit Fort Wayne says the line will stretch between two temporary 55-foot poles erected by Indiana Michigan Power on both sides of the river. Riders will take off from a 40-foot high platform and reach speeds of up to 35-40 mph before clearing the west side of the river about 10 feet above the surface and landing on a platform. Riders will wear helmets and gloves and be strapped into a harness.

Although the zip line at IPFW is temporary, Robinson said Visit Fort Wayne hopes someone locally will take an interest and establish a permanent zip line somewhere across one of the rivers in Fort Wayne.

The ride will be open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and will cost $15 per ride. It also will be open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday and noon-8 p.m. Monday, costing $20 for two rides.

What else is new?

• Area dealers will showcase boats — and trucks you need to tow them with — at a boat show 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. The world champion Miss Budweiser off-shore Key West race boat will be displayed.

• Pedal over to the festival on your bike and leave it at the free bike check. Volunteers will park and watch your bike on the lawn next to Kettler Hall.

Bring your boat

The RiverFest celebration isn't just about looking at the rivers, it's about being on them and having fun. Along with free pontoon, canoe and kayak rides at the festival from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., those with their own boats are encouraged to launch them at Shoaff Park and cruise down the river to IPFW.

Dan Wire of Friends of the Rivers advises boaters to stay just to the right of the center of the river where the water is deepest. Tie-ups marked with red streamers will be available on the north side of the Ron Venderly Family Bridge on the east side of the river. Tie the bow of the boat to the tie-up and anchor the stern offshore. Boaters are asked to move to either shore of the river from 1 to 2 p.m. during the water ski show and when a float plane lands.

A flotilla (boat parade) begins at 9 p.m. at the Venderly Bridge and travels upstream to St. Joe Center Road before returning to IPFW. Boaters are encouraged to decorate boats.

At 10:30 p.m., floating cauldrons of fire will be lit and burn until midnight. Boaters are asked to stay away from the fires. At 10:30 p.m. the fireworks display begins, so boaters are asked to stay upstream of the Venderly Bridge and close to the east bank.

Educational opportunities

RiverFest is meant to be fun, but educational as well. To that end, organizers have set up four “education stations” this year to share news about the rivers.

Several groups at Station I on the east side of the river will answer questions about the region's waters. Station II, also on the east side of the river, will have hands-on family activities. Station III on the east side of the river will host free pontoon rides on the St. Joseph River. And at Station IV on the west side of the river, visitors can try canoeing or kayaking.

More fun

• Kayak and canoe races will be held throughout the day.

• Registration for a 4K (2.5-mile) walk/run begins at 7:30 a.m.; the race begins at 9 a.m. Cost is $5 a person, $15 for a family of four, with each additional person $5; $10 additional fee for RiverFest T-shirt.

• ArtFest, a fine-arts and craft sale, is 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on the east side of the river.

• FoodFest is 10 a.m.-midnight on the river's east side. Enjoy ice cream, kettle corn, fruit smoothies, sandwiches, pizza, walking tacos, beer and more.

• RockFest is noon-midnight on the east side of the river with 14 bands playing pop, rock and classic rock on two stages.

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