In Centennial Park this weekend the banks of the icy Kenai River hosted many anglers whose fishing lines never touched the water.
At the end of the soggy boat launch boardwalk, a group of raincoat-clad children learned to cast under the instruction of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. It was one of many hands on activities community members tried to, undeterred by misty weather. Hundreds of people attended the 24th annual Kenai River Festival, hosted by the Kenai Watershed Forum and the City of Soldotna.
Further inland, Justice Adcox and his brother Archer Adcox shot handmade river rockets into the air at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska’s booth.
“When I count to three you push the button,” Summer Lazenby said. “Be ready.”
Justice Adcox’s long, salmon-pink, rocket launched at a sharp arch, and landed ten feet in front of him. He ran to pick it up excited by the successful send off.
While the kids took turns launching their rockets, Amy Adcox, their mother, chatted with her friend Megan Wohlers.
“The kids just love it,” Amy Adcox said. Despite the rain the family was managing a good time.
Wohlers said, after wandering the grounds for two hours and helping her five children with activities, she still hadn’t spent any money, which was a bonus.
Other than food and local hand made artisan products, every thing at the festival was free.Festival Director Lisa Beranek said that people were coming out regardless of the less than desirable weather.
“We’re Alaskans,” Beranek said. “We’re not afraid of the weather.”
Beranek said Friday had one of the biggest opening nights she had seen in years. She said even community members who have lived in the area for decades were getting the chance to see Centennial Park, she said. People have been very positive about the new location.Upon entering the fairgrounds the stage is the first thing people see. Rows of food vendors and local craft booths lined the pathways leading festivalgoer’s closer to the river.
Amy Pascucci, owner of the company Hearth, where she sells handmade bags and cases made of recycled materials, shared a booth with friend Jennifer Curry who also makes reusable sacks with her company Meta Verde
“It makes it a lot more fun to have someone to hangout with,” Pascucci said.
Kathy Lopeman sat in a dim, blue-tinted tent surrounded by her fused glass pieces. Periodically she would invite passersby into her booth to chat and get out of the rain.
“The festival is great for the exposure and the chance to talk to people,” Lopeman said.
Eden Alioto and her brother Dominic Alioto said the rain didn’t bother them at all. Eden Alioto said it was just a lot of exercise running between their families Fishing Booth run by the River Covenant Church.
As Eden Alioto sat in the Boys and Girls Club booth painting a flat wooden fish, green and red, she explained earlier that morning the two siblings ran in the Run for the River.
“It was really tiring” Dominic Alioto said.
Though the were tired, the two were still planning to cover each activity in the festival’s Kid’s Zone so they could win the chance at an iPad- a contest their older brother won two years ago.