gelato-cartVincenzo Sorriso of Sicilia Café inspects his new gelato cart, which will make its debut at RiverFest this weekend. (Click to enlarge)



It’s unlikely that Riverfest will struggle to reintroduce itself with Red Bank after a decade-long layoff from the banks of the Navesink.

In fact, organizers are practically beating back spot-seeking vendors who want to get in on the action, which starts Friday.

“My phone is ringing off the hook right now with people who want to get in right now,” said Lynda Rose, president of the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, one of the festival’s organizers. “Next year, they’re going to have to take a number.”

Anticipation is running high for Riverfest’s return, she said. Once a Red Bank tradition, the fest morphed into what would later become another tradition: the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival, which supplanted Riverfest as the premier summer-intro event for nearly 10 years.

But with Jazz & Blues’s exit last year, an opportunity presented itself for the festival to return, and now the borough’s end-of-spring event lineup has come full circle, Rose said.

“It was a food festival, then the music came in and then the food went out,” she said. “And now the food and music is back.”

How’s this for a sampling: On the food side, local restaurants including Temple Gourmet Chinese, red, Gaetano’s and Readies Fine Foods , among more than two dozen others, will be serving up dishes like filet mignon egg rolls, mahi mahi burgers and chilled lobster halves (hot dogs and burgers will also be abundant).

As for music, downtown — and The Downtown — veteran Pat Guadagno, Quincy Mumford and Tim McLoone & the Shirleys are all lined up to take the stage.

It’s to be, as Rose said, “just a cut above” what any other festival is like.

“Stuff that you just can’t find at a festival,” she said. “We’re doing it to show off Red Bank, to show off Red Bank restaurants.”

The festival gets started Friday afternoon and continues through Sunday. A full schedule is available on the Riverfest website. And the weather outlook is pretty spectacular.