"River Ruckus" events to highlight St. Johns River

Riverside Arts Market and St. Johns Riverkeeper partner to raise awareness

By Kumasi Aaron - Reporter/The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - On Saturday, July 5th, the Johns Riverkeeper and the Riverside Arts Market are partnering together to host River Ruckus, a a family festival that aims to show Jacksonville that our river is more than a scenic view; it's a recreational asset to this city that should be respected, protected and enjoyed. River Ruckus will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Riverside Arts Market, 715 Riverside Avenue, Jacksonville.

There are several activities to do that day including a flotilla of watercraft on the river, a celebrity jump into the St. Johns, kid's fishing clinic and crafts, stand up paddleboard (SUP) lessons, free boat trips, live local music, craft beer from SweetWater Brewing Company, plus the art, produce and food vendors that the Riverside Arts Market offers every Saturday.

"Our location under the canopy of the Fuller Warren Bridge, and on the St. Johns, plays a huge role in making RAM such a unique entertainment venue for North Florida families and visitors to our city," says RAM Director, Krysten Bennett. "It's only natural that we take a day to focus on the river and all it has to offer."

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Free Boat Tours on the St. Johns River with Freedom Boat Club, leaving every 30 minutes from the RAM dock.
  • Kid's Craft Station includes "make-your-own" fishing lures with the St. Johns Riverkeeper Education Director, Jennie Busey.
  • Stand up Paddleboard lessons and rentals on the water with All Wet Sports. Learn to SUP while watching the sunset!
  • Hook the Future kid's fishing lessons on the Hilltop Stage from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Join Captain Don Dingman for lessons on catching the big one, while spending a day on the water together.

The St. Johns River Flotilla kicks off at 11:00 a.m. Flotilla participants led by First Coast Outfitters will depart from the boat ramp next to River City Brewing Company in kayaks, canoes, and SUP boards traversing the river to RAM for a round trip adventure. Organizers will be awarding prizes for the best decorated vessel! Visit www.firstcoastoutfitters.com for more information about rentals.

Shannon Blankinship, St. Johns Riverkeeper Outreach Director, says, "River Ruckus is a fun-filled day of music and family friendly activities that features recreational opportunities provided by our river. Get your feet wet on July 5th and join us for a celebration of the St. Johns!"

At 12:00 pm.m the St. Johns River Celebrity Jump starts. Local celebrities and community leaders led by JumpingFish will jump into in the St. Johns. Organizers hope it will raise awareness about the river's recreational uses and the need to protect its health. JumpingFish is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate and promote Athletics, Recreation and Tourism in the St. Johns.

Participants in the jump include:

  • Jim Alabiso - Executive Director of JumpingFish, Open Water Swimmer
  • Kumasi Aaron - Anchor/Reporter at WJXT
  • Krysten Bennett – Director of the Riverside Arts Market
  • Joe Crespi - Owner of First Coast Outfitters
  • Tim Deegan - First Coast News Meteorologist
  • Mike Field – Community leader, Transform Jax, Metro Jacksonville
  • Bill Gulliford – Jacksonville City Council President
  • Michelle Jacobs – Director of the Duval County Special Olympics
  • Kristin Keen – Founder at Rethreaded
  • Al Letson - Host/Co-Executive Producer of State of the Re:UNION at WJCT
  • Lisa Rinaman - Your St. Johns Riverkeeper
  • Dave Roman - Senior Policy Advisor to Mayor Brown
  • Julie Watkins - President of The Girls Gone Green
  • Bob White - Nonprofit leader, actor, director and educator
  • Jesse Wilson – Writer at Void Magazine, Boomerang TV Host at MeeMee TV
  • Betsy Zahn - Special Olympics Gold Medalist, 50 Freestyle

Kerry "The Specktator" Speckman will serve as the emcee.

Organizers also have live music scheduled on RAM's riverfront stage throughout the day:

  • 10:30 – 12:15 p.m. Al Poindexter and the River Rise
  • 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Canary in a Coalmine
  • 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. This Frontier Needs Heroes
  • 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. RickoLus / The Little Books / Four Families (featured artists)

St. Johns Riverkeeper is a community-supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization that serves as an independent voice for the St. Johns River. The group says it's mission is to work on behalf of the community for clean and healthy waters in the St. Johns River, its tributaries and its wetlands, through citizen-based advocacy. You can find more information at www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org

Organized by Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP), a neighborhood non-profit, organizers say the Riverside Arts Market offers a dependable and affordable marketplace for artists and artisans to sell their products in a vibrant environment that serves as an inexpensive weekend storefront for their creative efforts. In addition to artist vendors, the weekly Market features live musical entertainment, street performers, food vendors and a fresh produce market, all under the canopy of the Fuller Warren Bridge. Admission is always free. www.riversideartsmarket.com

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