River Event to Feature Music and Environmental Activities
By Rick Hiduk
The staff and management of the Dietrich Theater and Wyoming County Cultural Center will host the seventh annual Celebrate Our River Day at Riverfront Park in Tunkhannock from 3 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 23. According to Dietrich Theater assistant director Erica Rogler, a variety of music will run almost nonstop, as will historical reenactments and games and activities geared to help children bond with the environment. There is no admission cost for River Day, which has been sponsored for the past several years by the Overlook Estate Foundation.
Dietrich Theater program director Margie Young serves as event coordinator, working with a committee comprised of numerous local environmental groups that conduct activities and sponsor various elements of River Day, which has drawn an average of 600 to 700 people per year to the Susquehanna River at Tunkhannock.
Rogler noted that music and any activities related to nature have proven popular in the past, so the committee has worked hard this year to provide plenty of both. “It’s going to be bigger and better than ever before,” she stated.
Entertainment will begin at 3 p.m. with a performance by the Sadie Green Sales Jug Band, who will be joined on stage by 20 children enrolled in a four-day “Jammin’ with the Jug Band” course that will be held at the theater from July 18 to 21. Band members Timothy Walker and David Driskell conduct the classes, which have grown in popularity each year.
The Coal Town Rounders will make their Tunkhannock debut when they take the stage at 4:30 p.m. The relatively new string band will present a repertoire of traditional bluegrass and old-time country standards. Venerable reggae performers, the George Wesley Band, will lend their tropical rock flare to River Day with a set slated to begin at 6:30 p.m.
Rogler is sure that youths will enjoy mural painting with the theater’s current artists-in-residence Steve and Amy Coley. Endless Mountains Council on the Arts representative Jan Henning will lead a group of plein aire painters, a French style of art that translates into fresh air painting, which means painting a scene exactly as it appears before the artist. Pieces produced through this process will be exhibited at the theater in August and September.
Natural and historical presentations will include performances at 3:15 and 4:30 p.m. by Bill Bachman of Penn State University, who will share the story of Frances Slocum, the daughter of early European settlers of the Wyoming Valley who was kidnapped and raised by Native Americans. At 4 p.m., Bachman will portray one of his own ancestors, Col. Ebenezer Parrish, who rode with George Washington in July of 1776 and settled in Wyoming County. Bachman’s presentations will be held inside the adjacent High Energy Fitness Gym, which will host an open house of the recently renovated facility throughout River Day. While Bachman is new to the event, he has previously offered historical presentations to appreciative audiences at the theater.
“It seems that people in our area have a good connection with local history and are always interested in learning more,” said Rogler.
At 5 p.m. at the gym, Rebecca Lesko of Endless Mountains Nature Center will present a workshop on butterfly gardening, which is also new this year, although Lesko has made presentations on other topics at previous River Day events.
Outside, patrons are invited to take a tree identification walk at 4 or 6 p.m. with a Bureau of Forestry educator, who will present “Tree Cookies,” an informative show for children that explains how trees grow. Countryside Conservancy representative Mike Crispell will display different species of venomous and nonvenomous snakes and explain what to do in the event of a snake bite. Dan Hubbard of Anthracite will demonstrate fishing from a kayak, and Susi Nuss will show visitors how to make baskets from natural materials in the Riverside Park Wee Willow Dome. Additional presenters will include associates from Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, Endless Mountains Heritage Region, the Wyoming County Conservation District, and the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau.
One of the most colorful spectacles of Celebrate Our River Day will be the arrival at about 3 p.m. of hundreds of kayakers, who will leave Mehoopany at 9:30 a.m. for a downriver paddle orchestrated by Endless Mountain Outfitters and Susquehanna Kayak and Canoe Rentals. Readers interested in participating in the mass flotilla are encouraged to call Dave Buck at 570-746-3272 or Art Coolbaugh at 388-6107.
Food items available by concession will include barbecue sandwiches, ice cream, snow cones, and lemonade. Attendants will assist patrons parking at Riverfront Park, which is located off the intersection of Routes 6 and 29 in Tunkhannock. The event will be conducted rain or shine. For more information, readers may call Margie Young at 996-1500 or log on to www.susquehannariverday.com.