By Elise Franco
The Friends of the Mahoning River hope that Riverfest will help renew public interest in cleaning up the Mahoning River.
The group organized Riverfest in conjunction with the Artists of the Rust Belt Artober event. Both events are Saturday at the B&O Station, 530 Mahoning Ave.
Riverfest runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., beginning with a bird-watching session and followed by displays, demonstrations and live entertainment.
The group, formed about a year ago, has a long-term goal of completely cleaning the contaminated sediment and removing six of the Mahoning River’s eight dams. The group also is focused on educating the public about the river and the benefits a cleanup could create.
Patricia Natali, a member of Friends of the Mahoning, said the Riverfest event is the membership’s latest way of spreading their cause.
Natali said the event will be a great opportunity for Mahoning Valley residents to learn about the river and the group’s cleanup efforts, as well as talk with representatives from groups such as the Audubon Society, Youngstown State University and Mill Creek MetroParks.
“It’s free, and it’s going to be fun and something for the whole family to participate in,” Natali said. “It’s one way to get people back down and in touch with the river. Hopefully, once we bring awareness we’ll get local support for our projects.”
In addition to displays from local groups, those in attendance will be able to listen to a live band, hike along the river and watch demonstrations from local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, the Mahoning and Trumbull County Conservation districts and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Group member John Kwolek said he and other members recently cleared brush from a man-made trail, which will allow him to lead river walks.
“I think that’s going to be neat, and I hope I can take some people on some walks,” he said. “We cleared the trail from the B&O to the city’s water offices so people can take a short walk along the river and see what it’s all about.”
For more information about Riverfest, contact the Friends of the Mahoning River at firstname.lastname@example.org.