RiverFest adds events, attractions
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is studying methods to clean the river.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- An event aimed at giving residents a positive experience with the Mahoning River has some new attractions this year.
The fourth annual Mahoning RiverFest runs from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday in Packard Park.
"We're trying to promote the Mahoning River to the residents of the Mahoning Valley and to try to provide a positive experience with the river," said Kim Mascarella, director of environmental planning at Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.
The Mahoning River Consortium, which presents the event, is a coalition of organizations whose goal is to clean up the river.
The Carnegie Science Center, a new participant at this year's event, will offer activities for children. Local historian Alex Bobersky will provide a historical tour of Packard Park, talking about the history of the Packard family. The W.D. Packard Dixieland Band will perform. Shona Gallery will demonstrate a drumming circle.
The popular canoe and kayak trips up and down the river also are on the list of activities.
"We're having a guided bike tour this year," Mascarella said.
Last year's tour was self-guided. The 18-mile trek runs through urban and rural areas, all with scenic views of the river.
"We'll also have a farmer's market this year with local produce and local farmers and the things they have to offer," Mascarella said.
A community talent show, a pond clinic, the kickoff of the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots and a softball challenge also are included on the activities list.
In other river projects, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a $3 million, 2- to 21/2-year feasibility study on dredging methods and disposal and water removal for dredged sediment.
A preliminary study pegged river cleanup costs at $100 million. The project would remove riverbank and bottom sediments contaminated by decades of accumulated environmental pollutants from steel and related industries.
If the project goes ahead, the federal government would pay 65 percent of design and construction costs, and the other 35 percent would come from other sources, the corps says.
RiverFest, which is free, started four years ago with a U.S. EPA grant to raise community awareness of the river. The grant lasted for two years, and the event has continued through fund-raising efforts.
Last year's event drew about 600 attendees, with about 1,000 attending in 2000.