By Vicki Ikeogu
Riverfest may have expanded over the years, but one thing stays the same: Sunday.
“In the beginning, Riverfest was just a Sunday activity,” said Roger Miller, assistant scout master of Boy Scout Troop 270. “But it’s now grown so much into Pioneer Park with the car show and kids’ games and the talent show and street dance.”
Sunday remains the day that many on the Riverfest committee look forward to every year.
“My husband and I go to Ellison Park on Sunday afternoon to have our dinner and watch the activities,” said Cathy Shuman, chair of the Saturday night dance concessions. “We always adopt several ducks and hope that we might win a prize.”
For Marcy Anderson, director of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce & Industry, it’s the parade.
“My family rides along and helps,” she said. “It’s about tradition and there are a large variety of events. It’s community bonding at its finest.”
And that all starts at 9 a.m. with a community worship service in Ellison Park.
The outdoor worship service is held in the far west portion of the park. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket to participate.
And keep those items handy as Riverfest transitions into one of its long-standing traditions – the parade.
Running the parade for the past five years, Anderson said this year the event will feature the 90-piece River City Rhythm drum and bugle corps.
“We try to bring in more bands and/or change them up,” Anderson said. “Marching bands are very popular.”
The Riverfest parade caps off at 140 units.
The noon parade starts on Third Street at the Monticello American Legion Club. The parade makes its way east down Third Street until Walnut Street.
From there, the route heads south until Sixth Street and continues west until Minnesota Street before ending up on W. Seventh Street.
Before the parade starts members of the 4-H Club and Sons of the American Legion will take to the streets collecting food for the area food shelf. They will also be handing out candy.
“As director of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce & Industry, it’s part of my job,” Anderson said. “But I love to give back to the community. And seeing the joy on the faces of the public is worth all of the time we put in.”
Once the parade is over, spectators can make their way back to Ellison Park for an afternoon of food, family and of course, ducks.
The free park and ride shuttle will be available starting at 1:45 p.m. Visit monticelloriverfest.com for details on the route stops.
Festivities resume around 2 p.m. with the annual Boy Scout lunch. Much like last year, the scouts along with Von Hanson’s of Monticello, will be serving up a $7 meal of pulled pork (or chicken) sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw.
“The dinner is fantastic,” said Josh Borner, a volunteer with Boy Scout troop 272. “It’s barbeque. You can’t go wrong.”
Von Hanson’s will be returning this year with a hog roast. Miller said it’s been a welcome change to the traditional chicken dinner the scouts were known for serving since the early 2000s.
“It’s always nice to have something different,” he said.
The special Riverfest dog will make its return this year as well.
Participants can burn off those added calories by spending the afternoon taking in the sights of Riverfest.
There will be live music by Moxie Blue starting 2 p.m. Kids games and bingo will provide plenty of entertainment for all ages. KRWC Radio’s Road Show will also make a returning appearance at Ellison Park.
Sunday afternoon provides a little bit of time for people to adopt a duck (or several) for the annual duck drop in the Mississippi River.
Thousands of ducks (5,000 to be exact) will be dumped into the Mississippi River at 3:30 p.m. from the Highway 25 bridge.
“It’s one of our fundraisers that brings so much excitement to the crowd,” Anderson said. “Boats and jet skis keep the ducks out of the trees and into the current.”
The average adoption fee for ducks is about $5 with corporate adoptions available as well.
Riverfest 2017 chair Dave O’Connell said the duck drop is his favorite part of the four-day celebration.
“Dropping the ducks from the bridge is the highlight of the weekend for me,” he said. “Watching 5,000 rubber ducks drop to the river below is a sight to see. Especially from directly above them.”
The first duck finisher receives $2,500. Second through sixth place receives $1,000. Seventh through 29th place receives $100.
And the last rubber duck to cross the finish lines comes home with $100.
“Families really look forward to hearing their name called as one of the prize-winning ducks,” said Roseanne Duran, duck adoption chair.
While organizers of the duck drop are getting the ducks in a row (yes, they must account for all 5,000 of them), activities in the park continue.
At 4 p.m. the 2017 Monticello Citizen of the Year will be announced. And shortly after the city will crown its newest Miss Monticello.
“The coronation is always nerve wracking,” Duran said. “But it’s fun.”
Riverfest concludes with announcing the winners of the iconic duck drop.
“Because it’s in the 41st year of the event, everyone knows their role and the planning runs very smoothly,” O’Connell said. “It really speaks to the generosity of the people in our community to have so many volunteers dedicate countless hours for the sole purpose of providing a fantastic experience for everyone else in the community.”
Vicki Ikeogu is a freelance feature and business writer for the Monticello Times.