Columbus Riverfest celebrates one year of WhiteWater
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -
The Riverfest weekend events kicked off Friday night, May 9, with live music, and it continued throughout Saturday, May 10.
About 15,000 people attended the event held at Woodruff Park and along the RiverWalk in Uptown Columbus. This is the first Riverfest event hosted by Uptown Columbus to commemorate Columbus WhiteWater's first year, and to kick off its second.
"We had about 16,00 people go down the river in 2013," Dan Gilbert, the president of WhiteWater Express said. He drove from Atlanta to Columbus to celebrate the day. "When we started this last year, we were just hoping that 6,000 people would come. We exceeded that number. So for 2014, we are hoping to have about 20,000 to 25,000 people go down the river. We are starting earlier this year than we did last year."
The second annual Dragon Boat Race took place as well., raising more than $1,200 for Children's Miracle Network.
"Last year, we had 33 teams of 21 people," Stephanie Woodham with Uptown Columbus explained. "This year, we had 36 teams of 21 people in the race. Corporations had to pay about $1,200 to sponsor a dragon boat. Community dragon boats cost $800 to sponsor. The race extends down two miles from Oglethorpe Bridge all the way to the RiverWalk island."
This event brings positive economic impact to Columbus. While admission was free, Uptown Columbus sold wrist bands for two dollars. Money collected will be used to create more community events by Uptown Columbus.
"Some portion of the money will go to benefit the Children's Miracle Network," Woodham added.
Dan Gilbert said this is the first time there's been a WhiteWater Express center in this region of the country.
"People had to go up the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina and other states before," Gilbert said. "Now, it's closer to many homes. People from Tampa, Dothan, Montgomery, Birmingham and Atlanta are just few of the cities that come to Columbus often, because this is the closest whitewater rafting center."
Columbus WhiteWater offered special deals to their customers on May 10 and May 11. Classic trips which cost about $35 are being reduced to $28 just for the weekend.