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Friday, 20 May, 2011 0:32 AM

Organizers announce plans for 5th Annual Detroit River Days


Matthew Cullen, Chairman of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, speaks during a press event for the 2011 Detroit River Days.


by Jason Rzucidlo



DETROIT -- The 5th Annual Detroit River Days festival will take place from June 23 to 26 along Detroit's beautiful riverfront bordering Windsor, Ontario. Details were announced during a press conference inside the GM Wintergarden at the Renaissance Center on Tuesday afternoon. River Days will include tall ships, tug boat races, live concerts, dancing, a 5K run, kids activities and much more. It all wraps up with the Target Fireworks on the Detroit River. The annual festival is produced by non-profit organization The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Hours for the 2011 River Days festival are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25 and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 26.The festival will grow to include the area from the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor to the soon to be opened Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Terminal & Dock, just west of the Renaissance Center.

"The 5th Annual River Days is such an important milestone," said Faye Alexander Nelson, President and CEO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. "I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge Matt. He has done an amazing job from a leadership standpoint. He's been the chairman of my board for eight years. River Days has been a huge success from the very beginning. Thanks in large part to truly how unique this event and other events are with regard to other events in the region. Set against the backdrop of one of the busiest international waterways, River Days is one of the only festivals that can entertain and inspire both on land as well as on water."

The Ambassador Bridge Company has paid for everyone to attend for free on Friday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. However, there will be a $3 admission fee on the other hours of the festival to pay for programming and operational costs.

New to the festival this year is the GM Art Fair on the River. Over a dozen General Motors employees will be showing off their artworks in various mediums. Art pieces will be available for purchase and for viewing. Also new for 2011 is the Global Water Dance performances. Detroit will be one of 57 cities that will take part in dance events. Look for the Global Water Dancers at 5 p.m. on Saturday and again on Sunday. The National Square Dance Convention is coming to the Motor City for the River Days festival. It will include square dancing, round dancing, clogging, contra, line dancing and more. It will take place on June 23 from 4 to 5 p.m. and June 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. on the main stage.

"I think this is very, very important," said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. "It really galvanizes people to come downtown to really see our beautiful, beautiful riverfront. When people do that, their whole attitude changes. I'm looking forward to it. You're going to hear continuously about partnerships. Partnerships just doesn't happen. Partnerships happen because of leadership. Faye Alexander Nelson and Matt Cullen are two unbelievable leaders. As you look at the river, this five miles of the river, five years ago nobody would have believed we would achieve what we achieved. It just amazes me how many new ideas come to the table."

More than 50 live concerts will entertain festival goers throughout the weekend. Four stages will include various genres of music including rock, jazz, R&B, gospel and country. The official music line-up will be announced in early June. The Pepsi Taste of Detroit food court will offer new food choices from some of metro Detroit's most popular restaurants. Eastern Market will return with healthy fruits and vegetables for sale at the festival.

The Detroit River Days is partnering with the Windsor Summerfest for a number of activities on the Detroit River. The 26th Annual Tug Across the River will feature a competition between firefighters from Windsor and Detroit on June 24 at 6 p.m. The International Tug Boat Race on the Detroit River will entertain festival goers on June 25 at 1 p.m. Typhoon Tommy will present jet ski demonstrations throughout the weekend on both sides of the river.

"The DMC, the Port Authority, the tall ships coming in and the continuous entertainment that will be here are highlights," said Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. "I think you'll see more people come down and there's more activities they'll be able to participate in. The run, the tall ships and things like that will be more. It's an international border so we encourage people to come over from Windsor as well. The 5th Annual River Days festival is going to be something special for all the families and really all of the metro Detroit area. We encourage all of the communities and their families to bring the families down. I think they're going to find that it's very exciting."

The 5th Annual Detroit Parade of Lights will feature 30-40 decorated sailboats and powerboats on both sides of the riverfront beginning at 10 p.m. on June 25. The Appledore IV and Appledore V tall ships will return with free tours at the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Dock. The tall ships were formerly located near the carousel at Gabriel Richard Park. The U.S. Coast Guard will bring back its cutter vessel for free tours over the weekend. Diamond Jack's River Tours will be offering discounted one-hour guided tours of the riverfront.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is sponsoring a number of get fit activities including walking tours of the Milliken State Park, bike rentals from Wheelhouse Detroit, the DMC River Days Run and Pooch-a-Palooza Pet Walk. The river days run will take place on Saturday, June 25 at 8:30 a.m. The pet walk is scheduled for Sunday, June 26 at 8:30 a.m. The ultimate air dogs will return along with Milt Wilcox.

"This is one event that comes around once a year that we will never miss," said Mustafa Dakroub, CEO of Palm Palace Restaurant. "It's pretty awesome, it's full of activities. It's a great exposure for our restaurant. It's a great way to get involved in the community. We have our chicken shawarma, which is a very, very popular dish that we have. We'll have falafel, we'll also have hummus, and our special homemade french fries. This will be our second year at the riverfront. I just want to thank Jonathan Witz and RiverFront Conservancy."

The Meijer Kids Zone area will feature face painting, recycled crafts, imaginative story telling, puppet and magic shows. In addition, there will be environmental booths and exhibits to teach attendees about being green. Team Sandtastic will return to create one 50-ton and two 10-ton sand sculptures at Rivard Plaza.

Organizers announced a new activity that will take place before River Days even starts. The first-ever kids fishing fest is scheduled for Saturday, June 11 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Milliken State Park & Harbor. It will allow families, parents, grandparents and children to enjoy fishing along the Detroit riverfront. There will also be face painting, free food and learning. All participants will receive four free wristbands to come back and enjoy the River Days festival two weeks later.

"It's everything from wood sculpture to ceramics," said Bailey Sisoy Isgro, a creative sculptor for GM, who will be showing her artwork at River Days. " It should be a different, fun event. A great way to highlight the skill and talent at GM. It's a wide variety. You want to have a lot of different price points, a lot of different ideas. I think there will be something for everyone. I've done art fairs in the past, but this is my first time at River Days. I've done the Ann Arbor Art Fair and the Detroit Festival of the Arts for several years. I'm very excited."

Related Story: Target Fireworks cap off the River Days celebration in Detroit



The Melting Pot of Troy brought some of its famous chocolate-dipped strawberries to the press conference.



Palm Palace Restaurant brought some of its Mediterranean specialties to the event.



The press conference took place in the GM Wintergarden at the Renaissance Center.



Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy's Faye Alexander Nelson and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.



Bing listens as Nelson talks to him.


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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.