New Milford prepares for RiverFest

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
New Milford held it's inaugural Riverfest celebration on Saturday October 13, 2018 at Young's Field. The festival is a culmination of work by the towns Riverfront Revitalization Committee to attract more visitors to the area.

New Milford held it's inaugural Riverfest celebration on Saturday October 13, 2018 at Young's Field. The festival is a culmination of work by the towns Riverfront Revitalization Committee to attract more visitors to the area.

Lisa Weir / For Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW MILFORD — The countdown is on until the town’s RiverFest returns.

The town’s Riverfront Revitalization Committee met Wednesday night to discuss details for the event, which will be Oct. 2 and 3 at Youngs Field Road.

RiverFest, organized by the town’s Riverfront Revitalization Committee and the mayor’s office, highlights the riverfront area and its connections to downtown, while celebrating the greater New Milford community.

It also brings attention to the town’s Riverfront Renewal Plan, which is designed to strengthen the link between the riverfront and the village center, create new recreational opportunities, and enhance the town’s economy. The project will likely take roughly a decade to complete, town leaders said.

The RiverFest committee will present its Riverfront Renewal Plan to several town boards, commissions and community groups in town.

The committee will also be sharing next steps and letting people know that their involvement in the event is key to bringing the project to fruition.

“This event is really showing people how the riverfront can be used, how it’s a gathering and festival place for the town, and a recreational place as well,” Liba Furhman, the committee chair and former mayor, said at the meeting.

Some of the plans include keeping the playground and tennis courts and adding sledding, a splash pad and ice skating, Furhman said.

“It’s also to enhance awareness of our beautiful river and our beautiful downtown to get people to come down and enjoy what we have to offer,” she said of the RiverFest.

The schedule of attractions are still evolving; however, some features are already in place including a New Milford police helicopter flying onto the field at the opening ceremony. Children will be able to see the helicopter close up, meet the pilot, and sit in the airplane seat, Furhman said.

The weekend’s entertainment will also include a variety of live music and food trucks, as well as bingo and a dog costume contest called Strut Your Mutt. Judges include Mayor Pete Bass, Candlewoof Park President Brian McDonald and Animal Welfare Society President Diane Saracini.

Dogs will be evaluated on costume design, originality, creativity and humor. Medals will be awarded to the winners in each category. A portion of the entry fee will benefit New Milford's Animal Welfare Society. There is a limit of 50 dogs to enter.

There will also be a River Run 5K and Kids’ Superhero Sprint, both of which will benefit the Ostomy Awareness Foundation. This is a nonprofit organization that brings awareness to ostomy, the end result of a surgical process that diverts the normal path for waste to exit the body through a new opening. World Ostomy Day is Oct. 2.

“We are super excited to have a USATF-certified course — the same route as the Moonlight Run, starting at Youngs Field,” said Deborah Rose, who volunteers for the foundation and was the former New Milford Spectrum editor. “It should be an exciting time.”

Food trucks, a children’s game area and a RiverFest information booth will be there.

While entrance to RiverFest is free, donations of $5 per person are welcome. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The committee is in search of vendors and volunteers. They plan to post signs around town about the event by the middle of September. The town is also looking for sponsors.

Furhman said is costs $18,000 to put on the event, which includes tents, chairs, music and entertainment.

For more information about RiverFest, visit The RiverFest committee’s website at nmriverfest.org. or send an email to nmriverfest@gmail.com.

The Riverfront Revitalization Committee now meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month, in the E. Paul Martin Room in Town Hall, and on Zoom. The agenda will say “Special Meeting.”

sfox@milfordmirror.com