Saturday: RiverFest set for Neponset II Park

A scene from last year's Neponset RiverFest. Image courtesy NepRWA

Explore the natural beauty of the Neponset River at the upcoming RiverFest, this Saturday (July 14) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with free kayaking, rock climbing, live music, and more.

The product of the Neponset River Watershed Association, this will be the second annual RiverFest, an event which aims to celebrate and bring attention to the “hidden river” of Boston -- especially how clean it’s getting, said Nancy Fyler, the outreach and education director of the Watershed Assoc.

The Neponset River, which travels 29 miles from Foxborough, near Gillette Stadium, to Dorchester Bay, is home to over 200 species of birds, fish, and other wildlife. This event will take place at Neponset Park, at the corner of Granite Avenue and Hilltop Street.

The festival will feature almost 30 exhibitors, including the New England Aquarium, who will be bringing their touch-tank tide pool, and Zoo New England. The Boston Public Library’s “biblio-cycle” will also make an appearance alongside booths for various environmental and energy groups, a casting clinic from Mass. Fisheries, and the “River Roadies” from 92.5 FM The River, who will be playing music, handing out prizes and raffling away tickets to Arcade Fire.

In addition to free kayaking and canoeing, there will be a free, 28-foot tall rock-climbing wall. The family-friendly festival will offer face-painting and live music by local artists like the Neponset River Ramblers Bluegrass Band, the Boston ILL Harmonics, and Dorchester-native Richie Parsons.

Food will be available for purchase and the splash park will be running, so “bring your kids, and bring towels,” said Fyler. While the event officially ends at 2 p.m., organizers encourage visitors to spend the day. Volunteers are needed, especially at the 8 a.m. set-up, and can sign up online (plus, they get a VIP pass allowing them to skip the line at events like kayaking and rock climbing).

“Our mission is to protect the water, wildlife, and land of the Neponset river and watershed,” said Fyler of the 50-year-old Watershed Association. “By exposing people to the river and the recreational opportunities, we hope to build future stewards of the river, people who care about keeping it clean and protecting it. If we can get people to appreciate the river, then I think we can get people to protect it.”

Learn more about the event and register to volunteer here.