Event showcases river, outdoors

YOUNGSTOWN — Getting the public out to experience the Mahoning River was a goal of the Friends of the Mahoning River for their eighth annual Riverfest.

Hundreds of people stopped by last weekend for the event, which included various activities and displays. Canoe and kayak rides were canceled because of heavy rainfall which raised river levels.

Patricia Dunbar, president of the Friends of the Mahoning River, said the festival celebrates the river and all it offers to the area.

“Over the eight years, we have had more and more people taking part and attending. We encourage kayaking and canoeing and being a member of our group,” Dunbar said.

“We have an education committee working on a curriculum on the rivers and wetlands. We will begin with in the Montaserri and charter schools first. The public schools have a set curriculum so it is harder for us to get in there,” she said.

Among the displays, representatives of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency showed what was living in the river; Mahoning and Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation Districts discussed composting; and Mahoning County Green Team discussed recycling.

ODNR brought several examples of what visitors can find in the river. Their displays focused on how pollution gets to waterways and other nature topics.

Also, Jungle Terry, markets, fine arts academy and others took part in the five-hour event.

Sandy Murphy of Flambeau’s in Youngstown said she is a member of the friends and said the event lets the vendors get to meet with the public.

“This was amazing how many people are here. Better than I thought it would be. What was good is I sold out,” she said.

Maya Carreno, 8, of Girard, who attended the event with her family, said she liked that there was so many things to do with her two younger sisters, Cora, 4, and Leah, 6. The trio were able to see birds and animals including Ouija, a 27-year-old cockatoo.

Heather Merritt of the Birds in Flight, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center in Howland, was at the festival with several birds and discussed plans for a new facility on a 60-acre site in Vienna. Plans are to show the site to the public on June 19.

Dunbar said the event is to celebrate the past, present and future of the Mahoning River, and it being pollution-free.

There are many access points on the river allowing people to get in kayaks and canoes on the river.

The friends meet 6:30 p.m. the third Monday of each month at the Oakhill Collaborative in Youngstown.