“Last year, we saw our largest crowds in Riverfest history, estimated at more than 20,000 people,” said Event Chair Melissa Whatley. “That success, coupled with the improvements we’re making to the size and variety of the show’s offerings, fills us with optimism that Riverfest 2012 will help us attract our biggest crowds and even more help for Cherokee County’s children in need.”
Set for the weekend of Sept. 29, Whatley said organizers of the 28th annual Riverfest have already been overwhelmed with support from vendors and sponsors who understand the importance of the event to the community, as it raises money to support local children through the Service League of Cherokee County.
“The League is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization, and all of the money raised by the show goes to children who need assistance … whether it’s a pair of eyeglasses, a warm coat or shoes,” Whatley said.
Whatley said the record-breaking number of vendors signed up this year will include juried arts and crafts exhibitors, a gourmet farmers market, children’s area attractions and games and concessions. The entertainment stage also has a full line-up for both days.
Also new this year, anyone wishing to purchase a Riverfest T-shirt can do so online at www.service
league.net and clicking on the Riverfest tab and scroll to the bottom of the page to the T-shirt order form.
T-shirts range in size from small to XXX-large and cost $15 and can be paid for via PayPal. Funds raised from the sales go towards Service League initiatives.
“Unless certain sizes sell out, all shirts will be delivered before Riverfest,” Whatley said.
Vice Chair Jennifer Stanley said the T-shirts, designed by President Sherri Wallace’s husband, Jay Wallace, are a vintage postcard design.
“They’ve really been a great seller,” Stanley said. “It translates into more money we raise for the children of the community.”
Many teachers at local schools have bought the shirts to wear to school for approved jeans days to promote the event.
“All the teachers really enjoy the dress down day. It provides them an opportunity to dress down for the day and to promote a good local organization,” Stanley said.
Stanley said that many students that are helped by the sales of the T-shirts and other Service League funds are identified by teachers, who she said are “the eyes and ears” for children who might need assistance.
“A lot of times, they’re our front line,” Stanley said.
Additionally, the arts and crafts area at Riverfest is expanding by 20 percent this year with more than 100 vendors. Whatley said many of those artists are new to the show, but the festival will also include many longtime favorites.
“We’re very excited about the continuously rising caliber of artists and crafters showing at Riverfest, and we’re welcoming some very talented new exhibitors this year in various areas including jewelry, children’s gifts and fine art,” Whatley said.
Some of those include Aria Handmade, Seeds Not Beads, Bugaroo Boutique, My Garden Baby, Rachel Lietch and Jim Wilshire.
In the concessions area, there are 23 confirmed concessioners, 14 returning and nine new, and their offerings range from boiled peanuts and hot dogs to gyros and specialty cupcakes. The children’s area and marketplace will also feature many returning favorites, such as apple products from Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, and a couple new features.
Mayor Gene Hobgood said the city of Canton is proud to be the host city for the event, as it brings many people to the Canton over the two-day festival.
“The more folks that get here the more the businesses like it,” Hobgood said.
Hobgood, whose wife, Elly Hobgood, is an honorary Service League member, said throughout all the years, Riverfest has been well-received, especially for its focus on such a meaningful cause.
“The Service League does a tremendous effort in our county,” Hobgood said. “It’s a very worthwhile project and that organization does a tremendous job with it.”
Admission for adults is a $5 donation and there is no charge for children younger than 10. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 29 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 30. The festival is held at Boling Park at 1200 Marietta Highway in Canton.