In the 160 years since Portland’s founding, the Willamette River, which divides the city and infuses it with both commerce and character, has undergone lots of changes. Once a sprawling stream brimming with fish, tributaries and creeks, it used to flood far out into the surrounding areas. As the city grew, the river was dammed, narrowed in some spots and deepened in others, forming a practical channel that fuels both industry and recreation for the hard-working and hard-playing residents of Stumptown.
With the goal of honoring the Willamette’s past, enjoying its present state and ensuring the river will flow freely in the future, RiverFest celebrates Portland’s wet wonder with an array of activities — both on the water and on the waterfront — from Friday, Sept. 21, to Sunday, Sept. 23.
Though details for this year’s festival have yet to be announced (keep an eye on their Facebook page), the annual event typically offers an array of activities encouraging people to get out and make a splash. Last year, the celebration included kayaking tours, free outdoor concerts, cleanup expeditions, group bike rides and sightseeing boat tours. And with the Riverfair at Waterfront Park, attendees can also gather information about ways to drink in the scene year-round. Though the festival lasts just one weekend, the river runs every day.