MIDDLEBURY — As part of the celebration of fresh water in Middlebury, the fourth annual Riverfest will offer a new event that continues the festival’s “edutainment” theme of entertainment and education.
A historical hike of the Little Elkhart River will take place at 8 a.m. Aug. 17, at the beginning of Riverfest.
Hike participants will learn how the river, fresh water and water power was the reason that Native Americans and then pioneers settled in Middlebury. They will walk along the river on the town’s trails over the walking bridge and then along the mill race leading to the old Wanberg Popcorn plant. The plant was built in 1838 as a grist mill powered by the Little Elkhart River. Participants will be able to go inside the mill and learn how water power helped build the Middlebury community.
The historical hike is sponsored by the Middlebury Community Enrichment Council. In case of rain, the presentation will be in the old Wanberg mill, across the street from Riverbend Park.
Riverfest will also feature an artistic way to conserve water. Six custom-painted rain barrels will be auctioned off to promote the wise use of water while providing beauty to a landscape. The artwork on the barrels was painted by students from third grade classes at Middlebury and Orchardview elementary and Northridge High School students. The rain barrels have been seen at Middlebury Third Fridays and will be on display during the Middlebury Summer Festival. They are being auctioned through a silent bid auction which will end at 1 p.m. during Riverfest.
“Rain barrels are an easy way to collect rain water after a storm and save it for a dry day,” said Middlebury parks manager Tom Enright. “Rain barrels are most often connected to a downspout of a gutter system. These barrels have all of the necessary attachments to be functional, and just need to be connected to a downspout.”
Riverfest will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 17 at Riverbend Park. Other events will include a family nature hike, the ETHOS Science Bus and chances to see the fish and other creatures that live in the Little Elkhart River. There is no charge to enter Riverfest, and it is open to everyone. Riverbend Park is located at 511 E. Warren St.
Schedule of Events
All day: Food for sale, games, crafts, activities, environmental exhibits, rain barrel silent auction, kayaking
8 a.m.: Adult bird hike and also river historical hike
9 a.m.: Healthy Soil Healthy Water; Waste Water Wonders
10 a.m.: Family nature hike
11 a.m.: Fish shocking demonstration
Noon: Water bugs, ETHOS Science Bus
1 p.m.: Rain barrel auction; live animal program