Crowds of 20,000 beat the heat at Anoka Riverfest

Crowds packed the streets in downtown Anoka for the 14th annual Anoka Riverfest and Craft Fair on Saturday.

While temperatures were scorching in the 90s, more than 20,000 people showed up to shop more than 150 crafters set up along Jackson Street, First Avenue and the newly revamped City Hall Plaza.

“It was a great day for the community and that means it was a great day for the chamber,” said Pete Turok, executive director of the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce, which heads up Riverfest.
Food and crafting booths combined totaled around 150 vendors.

“We only had two spots left,” said Turok. “So we’re not totally full yet but we’re creeping up there.”

Riverfest does jury the artisans that are able to sell their wares and limits the number of vendors in each category. Although the only category that does typically see an onslaught of applications is jewelry.

“We could have 30 more jewelry crafters in if we wanted to,” said Turok.

A sign of the event’s success is the many crafters that come back to the show year after year. Some have even been involved since the beginning, he said.

Pontoon rides are a perennial favorite at Riverfest and this year was no different. Ten pontoons headed by volunteer captains gave more than 1,000 rides on the Mississippi and Rum rivers.

Turok said he heard good things from other downtown merchants who reported a busy day of business during Riverfest.

“That’s another important part of Riverfest that people don’t always think about,” said Turok.

Riverfest has long been an opportunity to showcase Anoka and encourage out of town visitors to come back and shop the downtown.

Despite high temperatures, Turok said no medical emergencies were reported this year.

Riverfest will celebrate its 15th anniversary next year, at the July 13, 2013 event.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at editor.anokaunion@ecm-inc.com

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