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[Every year the Narrowsburg hosts "Riverfest", a celebration of the area's arts and environment. The 2005 event was be held on July 24]

TRR photo by Charlie Buterbaugh
NaCl stilt walkers and a member of their security.

Sky is no limit for Riverfest [2005]


For the fifteenth year the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) set the stage for the mother of all festivals celebrating the Upper Delaware arts community.

An event that nurtures, and in turn thrives on the people who’ve decided to live and create in this bucolic region, Riverfest drew thousands to Narrowsburg’s Main Street on July 24. This year’s festival featured 41 artists and craftspeople as well as a local authors booth and readings by local poets, both firsts for the event.

By 10:00 a.m., the Inner Urge Jazz Ensemble was souping up this stone’s throw hamlet with live music, and in the afternoon, Bob Goldring and members of The Linemen took the stage to play bluegrass.

Setting a new record, 76 posters portraying impressions of summer life on the river were donated for the annual auction that benefits DVAA’s future as the arts council for Sullivan County.

“People who never come into the gallery come to look at the posters. Something about it intrigues them,” said DVAA Executive Director Elaine Giguere. “I’ve always thought of it as a democratization of the arts.” A jury selects the vendors who line the streets at the festival, but anyone can create and donate a poster.

Ask the vendors about Riverfest, and most will tell you that wild horses couldn’t drag them away.

“We do extremely well here. We would not miss this show,” said Clem Fullerton of this celebration of art, music and ecology. Together with Lew Trombridge, Fullerton led a fly-tying demonstration for the Upper Delaware chapter of Trout Unlimited. Trombridge said Riverfest gives Trout Unlimited an opportunity to show people how important it is to protect the Upper Delaware fishery.

Standing on the interstate bridge over the Delaware, author and actor Malachy McCourt said, “Something is quite extraordinary about the river here. They call it Narrowsburg, but it’s really much broader than that.” McCourt, who lives part-time in Milanville, PA, was raised in Limerick, Ireland. He is the author of “Bush Lies in State.”

“What’s interesting is the warmth with which people greet each other,” McCourt said. He noted the numerous galleries on Main Street. “And yet there’s no sense of snobbery here.”

Geoffrey Dahlberg of Callicoon, NY said of the festival: “This one achieves what it sets out to do.” His wife, Georgia Chambers, presented a collection of pictures that she produces through printmaking, watercolor and acrylic painting.

Chambers said: “You never know who you’re going to meet or what you’re going to sell.” This was her 13th year at the festival.

“I think it’s a celebration of the people. It’s positive and supportive. Everyone’s really friendly and encouraging,” said Kim Lust, who fires her stoneware pottery in her studio in Glen Spey, NY.

“It’s about celebrating community, old-fashioned style,” said Naomi Hurst, a fiber artist from Bloomingburg, NY.

Vendors traveled to the festival from as far away as New Paltz and Middletown, NY. Giguere said: “One of the reasons the artists participate is because we’ve helped to build an audience for them.”

This year’s poster auction generated $9,000 for DVAA’s visual arts program, perhaps an indicator of the arts economy’s growing strength in the river valley.

“When you can raise $9,000 on the street selling art, it’s a good sign,” Giguere said. The poster sale generated $1,200 in its first year.

Jill Wiener of Earthgirl Pottery, who keeps a shop in her barn in Jeffersonville, NY, said, “I think it’s [the economy] getting much better. I know I’d rather shop locally and let the money re-circulate locally.”

Stanley Harper of Narrowsburg Fine Wines and Spirits on Main Street said, “I think it’s a real moment of coming together. I really do love it.”

DVAA’s role as the county’s arts council entails administering state and county grants, providing technical assistance to other non-profits, and lobbying for the area’s arts community at the state, county and local levels.

For more information call 845/252-7576 or visit ArtsAllianceSite.org

TRR photo by Richard A. Ross
Chairmaker Peter Galbert of Jeffersonville, top left, demonstrated the technique of using a razor-sharp, nine-inch draw knife to plane down a piece of oak at Riverfest on July 27. (Click for larger image)

Riverfest reigns supreme [2004]


NARROWSBURG, NY – Simply put, this year’s Riverfest was magical and enticing. Unique in its own right, the festival that celebrated its 14th anniversary delighted a huge crowd with a mix of art, music and ecology.

Of prime interest to many of the visitors to the quaint hamlet on the Delaware River was the poster auction sponsored by the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance. Each year the proceeds from the auction are used to fund the arts alliance’s visual arts program that includes the student gallery, the loft gallery and the main gallery. This year’s auction featured 88 posters and raised $13,445. The incomparable Pamela Moore Epstein conducted the auction.

The street was lined with local artists, photographers and craftspeople marketing their handiwork while music from Carl Dietz’s Inner Urge Band filled the air with joyful sounds.

At the gazebo along the banks of the river, the Upper Delaware Valley Visioning Committee polled visitors about key issues outlined by residents during community meetings, including protecting the land, water and air quality and private property rights, preserving the area’s rural character and encouraging long term stewardship of the land based on science. On Main Street, Randy Stechert discussed local endangered species and threatened herpetofauna. The Delaware-Highlands Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, The Eagle Institute, the Upper Delaware Council, the National Parks Service and the Master Gardeners of Sullivan County, also advanced ecological awareness.

News & columns provided by The River Reporter