Anoka’s annual summer celebration is just over a week away.
Anoka Riverfest and Craft Fair, a one-day celebration of arts and river recreation, will take place Saturday, July 14.
The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Anoka where more than 150 craft exhibits will feature 100 percent handcrafted items for sale along Jackson Street (one block north of Main Street).
While currently still under construction, the city hall parking lot being upgraded to a plaza for community events, is scheduled to be completed by July 14.
“That area is going to be packed with crafters during Riverfest,” said Pete Turok, Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce president. “We’re not worried about construction at all. There’s plenty of parking available.”
All other Main Street construction activities will be focused on the east end of the project, making it easier for visitors to navigate the downtown during Riverfest.
Riverfest is making strides at becoming one of the best outdoor craft fairs in the Twin Cities Area, said Turok.
“This is a record year for crafters,” he said of the more than 150 booths that will be filled.
Riverfest is becoming increasingly known by crafters not just from the Twin Cities area, but the Midwest region, as a great place to showcase and sell their wares, according to Turok.
Last year estimated attendance was around 20,000 visitors, said Turok.
“This isn’t just about the day of Riverfest, it’s about the 364 days that come after,” he said.
Getting residents of the Twins Cities to come out and experience Anoka is part of building a strong retail sector, Turok said.
“We want people to say, ‘hey, maybe we should go back to Anoka because we saw some pretty neat stuff there,’” he said.
Things to do
Poontoon rides are always a popular feature of Riverfest. Volunteer captains will be taking visitors on a 10- to 15-minute cruise on the Rum and Mississippi rivers.
Rides will start at the docks behind city hall and run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but the line up for rides will be cut off at 1:25 p.m.
“It’s definitely the fan favorite for Riverfest visitors,” said Turok. “It’s great for people who don’t otherwise get a chance to see the Mississippi and the Rum.”
This year the fleet has been expanded by one to include 10 pontoons. With the rivers up and flowing fast, organizers and the Anoka Police Department will be keeping a close eye on safety.
So far, said Turok, they plan to go ahead with the pontoon rides.
Free concerts will take place on the Main Stage located on Jackson Street between Second and Third avenues and the River Stage, near docks behind city hall.
Main Stage entertainment includes the Riverfest Jazz Ensemble from 10 a.m. to noon, Big Stoop/Ron Chamberlain Big Band from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and the Bill and Tom Show from 3 to 5 p.m.
At the River Stage there will be Jim and Molly Bauer at 10 a.m., Will and Claire Van de Crommert at 11 a.m., Paul Folwell at noon and Laura Underwood and Jeff Bjorgo at 1 p.m.
The Anoka County Historical Society will host an old-time photo booth at the Anoka County History Center on Third Avenue, complete with costumes. Tickets for the July 15 home and garden tour as well as the ghosts tours will also be available from the Anoka County Historical Society at the corner of Second Avenue and Jackson Street.
A food court will be set up in the parking lot between Wells Fargo and Billy’s Bar and Grill.
The Nowthen Threshing Show display can be found on Second Avenue near the parking ramp where visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds of historic agriculture.
For more information or to download maps of the festival area visit www.anokariverfest.com.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at email@example.com