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Local News / Entertainment

Monday, 21 May, 2012 0:45 AM

New Programming Announced for 6th Annual Detroit River Days Festival, June 22 - 24

Detroit RiverFront Conservancy brings miles of music, art, culture and history, maritime-themed activities, a 5K run and much more to our revitalized riverfront


A look at last year's 5th Annual Detroit River Days Festival from 2011.



DETROIT – The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy announced today an exciting line-up of new programming for the 6th Annual Detroit River Days Festival, one of the most highly anticipated summertime events happening June 22-24, 2012. The three-day, family-friendly festival, presented by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, will feature first-ever events such as the Detroit River ArtScape, a salute to the Tuskegee Airmen, a kickoff to summer from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, maritime-themed activities from the Detroit Historical Society, buskers and street performers along the RiverWalk, as well as annual favorites such as a tall ship, towering sand sculptures and live concerts with performances by local and national musicians.

The 2012 River Days Festival kicks off Friday, June 22 at 11 a.m. and spans from the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor to the newly completed Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Terminal & Dock, just past the Renaissance Center. Festival hours are 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Sunday. Guests can enjoy free admission to the festival on Friday, June 22 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. For a full schedule and exciting details, please visit

“This year’s Detroit River Days is one of the most spectacular and diverse we’ve had in the festival’s history. Detroiters and visitors alike will experience a one-of-a-kind event on the water where they can explore miles of our beautiful Detroit Riverfront which serves as a magnet for new companies, residents and employees,” said Faye Alexander Nelson, President & CEO, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. “The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy is thrilled to bring River Days to our community and is extremely grateful to our generous sponsors and partners who are working with us to celebrate our riverfront.”

The non-profit Conservancy began the festival in 2007 to mark the opening of the transformed Detroit Riverfront. Since that time, more than three miles of Riverfront and its associated greenways are now open and accessible to the public, including the Dequindre Cut Greenway and William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, Michigan’s first urban state park. The Conservancy will charge a $3 admission fee (and $5 after 5 p.m.) to help underwrite programming and operational costs for the festival..


The inaugural Detroit River ArtScape is an open art competition for Michigan artists, hosted by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, in which 10 artists will be selected to showcase their art and win cash prizes totaling $15,000. The art will be displayed from the Detroit Port Authority to Rivard Plaza, and in the General Motors Wintergarden. The juror panel for Detroit River ArtScape comprising of individuals from Detroit’s leading arts institutions including Detroit Institute of Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, College of Creative Studies and the Michigan Arts League. Deadline for submissions is May 20, 2012. For more information and to apply, visit

River Days will feature buskers and street performers, found at festivals around the world, who will fill the GM Fountain area with routines that include musical acts, bucket drummers, aerialists, hula hoop performers, jugglers, living statues and more. Performances will run Friday from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Official Kickoff to Summer is June 22-24 along the Detroit Riverfront William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor. With more than 20 activities and exhibits, the DNR’s experts will be on hand to offer instruction on recreational activities like fishing, birding and disc golf and provide demonstrations about camping, hiking, biking, paddling and archery. Enjoy a free taste of Hudsonville’s Pure Michigan Caramel Apple ice cream, the official flavor for Michigan State Parks and join the DNR’s “build a campfire & s’more making” exhibit.

To celebrate the historical significance of the Detroit River and its surrounding waterways, River Days has added a series of historical events and exhibits to its 2012 programming. Throughout the weekend, The Detroit Historical Society will lead maritime-themed children’s activities as well as stage performances to educate and entertain festival guests of all ages. The Society will display a 1960s C-Class hydroplane and a 18th century cannon that was recently recovered from the Detroit River. Both artifacts will be on display at the Detroit Port Authority.

On Friday, June 22, festival-goers will experience a Salute to the Tuskegee Airmen on the GM Plaza & Promenade and following the program, a World War II B-17 Bomber from the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport will make three passes overhead in tribute to the African-American fighter pilots. (Time to be determined.)

On Saturday, June 23rd, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of The War of 1812, River Days and The Historic Fort Wayne Coalition have partnered to create a live battle re-enactment on the river aboard the tall ship, Appledore IV. Also, an interactive mock war encampment will be established inside Milliken State Park, where guests will be encouraged to interact with the troops and ask questions about the War of 1812.


The Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort National Music Stage, located along the RiverWalk just west of Rivard, and the Flagstar Bank and Michigan Lottery Local Music Stages, will showcase some of the best national and local music talent from classical to country, R&B, alternative rock and good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. The musical line-up will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Detroit Riverfront encourages healthy lifestyles with year-round recreation and activities, and River Days will feature the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan “Get Fit” Activities, which include guided walking tours of the William G. Milliken State Park.

The 3rd Annual DMC River Days 5K Walk and Run is on Saturday, June 23 at 8:30 a.m. The course will showcase the Detroit RiverWalk, including the Milliken State Park, and new this year is a costume contest and music and entertainment. There is a quarter mile Kids’ Fun Run around the scenic wetlands. The 5K costs $20 for pre-registration and $25 race day, which includes an official race t-shirt, chip timing and four wrist bands for festival admission. The Fun Run costs $10 for pre-registration and $15 race day and includes an official race t-shirt and admission to the festival. Interested runners can sign up at

The 6th Annual Strategic Staffing Solutions Pooch-a-Palooza Pet Walk, presented in partnership with Canine to Five: Detroit Dog Daycare, the morning of Sunday, June 24. This year’s activities include a pet walk, a dog fashion show, pet portraits, pet massages and more. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the GM Plaza. The entry fee is $10 per dog on or before June 22 and $15 for onsite registration the day of the walk. Humans walk for free! More details and registration can be found online at

The Appledore IV tall ship will be docked for free tours at the new Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Dock, just west of the Renaissance Center. Similar to the ships that worked the Great Lakes a century ago, Appledore IV hails from Bay City, Mich. and is operated by BaySail.

A fixture on the Detroit River since 1874, the United States Coast Guard will provide a unique representation of Detroit’s distinction as an international border. Beginning Saturday, June 23 at 3 p.m., a United States Coast Guard Cutter will be docked at the GM Plaza for free tours throughout the weekend.

On the water, the Detroit Riverfront becomes a stage when Typhoon Tommy brings the Detroit River Freestyle Championships starting Friday, June 22. Professional freestyle riders will be performing big air jumps, flips and underwater dives for the honor of being named the Detroit River Freestyle Champion.

The amazing Sand Sculptures return near Rivard Plaza & Pavilion and will feature one 50-ton and two 12.5- ton sand sculptures designed by Team Sandtastic, from Sarasota, Florida - all built during the festival right before visitors’ eyes. There will also be an enormous sand box play area next to the sculptures.

The Kids Zone will hum with an “All Aboard!” theme capturing boating and fun on the Detroit River. Activities woven through Rivard Plaza and Milliken State Park include face painting, cool crafts by Matrix Theater of Southwest Detroit, earth-friendly crafts by Arts and Scraps, imaginative story telling and puppet and magic shows. All activities are free and Kids Stage entertainment is provided by AM 910 Radio Disney.

“Reading & Rhythm on the Riverfront (R3)” will preview its second season during River Days. Local celebrities will be on one of the River Days’ major stages and read their favorite childhood books to the gathered families. R3 is a six-week summer reading and literacy program hosted by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy on Rivard Plaza. It features celebrity readers, free books, carousel rides and make-and-take crafts for kids. The 2012 program starts Thursday, July 12, and runs Thursdays and Fridays through August 17. R3 is geared towards emerging and young readers ages three to 10.

The Pepsi Taste of Detroit Food Court will offer a diverse mix of some of metro Detroit’s best eateries from Middle Eastern, barbeque, Italian and also fresh-from-the-farm options from Detroit’s own historic Eastern Market.

Diamond Jack River Tours will be docked at Rivard Plaza and festival-goers will be able to take one-hour tours and experience the sights from the Detroit River. Tours will be presented at a discounted rate, with $10 tickets (regularly $17) for adults and seniors, and $5 tickets (regularly $13) for children. Children under 5 years of age are free with an adult. Tickets can be purchased upon boarding and certain restrictions apply.

The 6th Annual Detroit River Days Festival, presented by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, is sponsored by Anheuser Busch, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Brown Forman, The Chandler Group, Comcast, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau (DMCVB), Detroit Pistons, Flagstar Bank, Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT), Metro PCS, Michigan Lottery, Pepsi, Quicken Loans, Securitas, Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3) and US Park.

About The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy

The non-profit Detroit RiverFront Conservancy was formed as a public-private partnership in early 2003 with the mission of developing public access on the Detroit Riverfront and serving as an anchor for economic development. The completed project will span five-and-a-half miles of riverfront property, from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the Mac Arthur Bridge to Belle Isle, and will include a continuous RiverWalk along with public parks, pavilions and plazas, and green spaces. Currently, more than three miles of east Riverfront is complete and open to the public. The Conservancy is responsible for the construction and permanent operations, maintenance and programming of the Detroit Riverfront and the Dequindre Cut Greenway. Visit for more information.

Source: Lovio George Inc.

Related Story: Organizers announce plans for 5th Annual Detroit River Days



Team Sandtastic from Sarasota, Fla. will return with more sand sculptures.



The Appledore IV tall ship will make another appearance at River Days.



The Target Fireworks will once again wrap up the Detroit River Days on Monday, June 25.




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Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.
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.