NAVESINK RIVER: ARTIEPALOOZA RETURNS

Pix from the 2013 edition of Artiepalooza, which attracted some 85 vessels at its peak, organizers say. (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Among the incomparable delights of life on our beautiful Navesink River is the floating annual bash now known as Artiepalooza.

Centered in Blossom Cove on the Middletown side of the river, roughly opposite Riverview Medical Center, the daylong, boat-based event returns on Saturday bigger than ever, with six musical acts performing on a “raft” of three vessels tied together, as well as this: a pontoon selling Chilangos Restaurant fish tacos that partygoers can preorder by text message.

And it’s all for a good cause.

The boat bash serves as both a fundraiser –or David’’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation, an organization that provides financial assistance to those affected by cancer, –and a tribute to the memory of 51-year-old Arthur “’Artie’” Natsis of Middletown.

In its first two editions, the event was known as “Baaaquapalooza”: basically a waterborne party centered on the band the Moroccan Sheepherders. Think sheep. Think water. “Baaaquapalooza”.

But after Natsis died of cancer in April 2013, the event was renamed in his honor.

“”Last year, we counted 85 vessels at the peak,” including boats, kayaks and paddleboards, said Natsis’ widow, Feli Donato-Natsis, whose first name is pronounced ‘Filly.’“”We think there’s going to be more this year,” because Sheepherders frontman and event organizer Steve Warendorf has outdone himself in getting the word out through local marinas, she said.

This year’s edition again features the Moroccan Sheepherders and Red Bank-based Woodfish, plus four other electric and acoustic acts playing on the fishing charter boat Big Kid.

The host boats plan to drop anchor in Blossom Cove and kick the party off around 10 a.m. and go until 6 p.m.  The event is free to boaters, but mugs and t-shirts will be available for sale,  and donations accepted. Last year, Artiepalooza raised close to $2,000, Donato-Natsis said.

For more information, go to the Artiepalooza Facebook page.

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