Confluence Festival takes it to the river this weekend

China Bar shuttle, PARC map among river fest’s features
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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River lovers plan to go with the flow this weekend at the American River Confluence Festival. In its 17th year, the festival, to be held Sunday at the American River Overlook Park in order to celebrate local canyons, has a couple highlights this year, said Eric Peach, Protect American River Canyons conservation chairman. This year’s festival celebrates the restoration and re-opening of the four-mile river stretch between the North/Middle Fork Confluence to China Bar. “We’re looking forward to this year’s festival,” Peach said. “We have a lot to celebrate, especially with the river opening.” Festival-goers will have the opportunity to take a free shuttle ride down to the newly opened stretch. “Our goal was to offer the public more information about the inlet works and the (Placer County Water Agency) pump station,” he said. “We think there’s a lot of curiosity about that from the general public.” Also new to this year’s festival is PARC’s American Confluence Parkway Map, a comprehensive guide to all things river, which features profiles of wild flora and fauna that can be found in the Confluence area. “It has some common (flora and fauna) and some that you have to look a little harder to see,” Peach said. The map also offers background, rules and regulation. “It’s kind of a different twist,” Peach said. “Instead of trying to describe how to do everything, we thought, let’s do a little enrichment here. We’re getting more and more people who want to know about the natural history of the canyon.” The map will be available at the festival for $5, or free to current or new PARC members, Peach said. The Confluence Festival, held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., begins with a festival blessing and a white-dove release led by Stan Padilla and the Loping Wolf Indian Flute Ensemble. “That’s always special. Stan Padilla asks the river to bless us and guide us for the following year,” Peach said. “I really look forward to that.” Sunday’s festival also features nature and art activities for kids and adults, live music and entertainment, food and informational booths. Highlights throughout the day include Wild Things and their live-animal presentation, juggler/storyteller Izzi Tooinsky and live tunes by BluHorse, Starry River and The Pyronauts. Recreational opportunities include a rock climbing wall — “You get the best view of the river from the top,” Peach said — along with a canyon ecology hike, bike ride and run. The festival also includes a silent auction featuring inflatable kayaks, Peach said. “It’s probably the only festival that would be a collection of canyon organizations, and also, obviously, it’s a very environmentally oriented festival,” said Roger Groghan, PARC board member. “We do this as an offering to the community. It’s a way for people to get together and have a nice time by the river. People who have a real emotional connection to the canyon, it’s time for them to come together.” Peach said everything the Confluence Festival has to offer has to do with encouraging an appreciation of local waterways. “It’s written into our mission to promote safe, responsible recreational use of the canyon, and we’re trying to fulfill our goals,” he said. “It’s primarily to draw attention to the natural resources of the American River, all the things it has to offer the community, and to become better stewards of the river. It’s just to develop appreciation, quite simply, for the river and the canyons. PARC has always been very passionate about the river and this is a vehicle to communicate that passion.” With weather warming up and school getting out for summer, there couldn’t be a better time to host the Confluence Festival. “The recreation season is really starting now and people are starting to stick around, so it’s a good chance to plan some river adventures with the information they gather with new friends they meet at the river festival,” Peach said. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at lorylln@goldcountrymedia .com.