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BRATTLEBORO — Riverfest Weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, is coming together thanks to multiple nonprofit groups, sponsors and volunteers, and organizers say it’s likely to produce a regional bump in business this week.

People are backing the opportunity to bring more attention to the beauty, the wildlife, and the recreational and entertainment opportunities of an asset right in our backyard, said Brett Morrison, Connecticut River Conservancy director of development and chairman of Riverfest Weekend.

Kathy Urffer, river steward with the Conservancy, explains Riverfest Weekend aims “to help people understand how to get on, in and by the river to enjoy all it has to offer.”

She said part of the job of a river steward is “to help communities turn back to face the rivers we abandoned so many decades ago, when they were more severely polluted. Events like Riverfest are vitally important to reflect on our relationship with our rivers, get back into the water now that it is cleaned up, and learn to love that ecosystem again.”

Urffer noted that paddlers and anglers “know and love this hidden gem that borders Brattleboro … [the Conservancy] wants everyone to come back to the river, enjoy it and remember why the town grew here.”

Riverfest Weekend and its 44th Annual New England Paddlesports Championship also present an opportunity to give the area a boost to its tourism traffic.

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The weekend provides opportunities for folks to go on guided hikes, biking or take fly-casting lessons. Other options include canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

Gregory Lesch, executive director of the Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce, noted that Brattleboro has a long, storied past with the Connecticut River, the historical setting of great recreation and industry. Island Park, now largely under the Connecticut, became a great source of entertainment for Brattleboro — boasting a large grandstand pavilion, which hosted a minor league baseball field, ballroom, bowling alleys and vaudeville stage.

The river was of great importance, but by 1927 annual flooding had taken its toll — and the island, and all the recreation the Connecticut River afforded there, largely sank from public consciousness.

That’s changed in part because of events like Sunday’s New England Paddlesports Championship, which has been taking place for 43 years at various sites on the Connecticut River.

See this year’s Riverfest activities at and learn more about the river and the conservancy’s work at