When the fifth annual edition of Red Bank Riverfest pitches its tents and stages at Marine Park for another three-day stay starting Friday night, it’ll once again stake the borough’s claim to one of the major keynote events of the season, a tradition with roots in the modestly scaled Red Bank Food Festivals of yesteryear, and the big-league Jazz and Blues events at the century’s switch.
Food vendors will be present and accounted for the weekend-long event, a presentation of the Eastern Monmouth County Chamber of Commerce with Hoboken-based This Is It! Productions. Attendees will enjoy a stroll-through “artisan’s alley,” riverboat (and “rum and beer”) cruises, Nathan’s Kidszone rides and activities, as well as displays by sponsors. Mother Nature (who famously blew some mean solos during some of those open-air jazz sessions) promises to be on her best behavior, with just a chance of a seasonal T-storm on the festival’s final day. And the music – wafting forth from two stages on the wings of a Navesink River breeze – will be front and center, much of it brought to you by the people at Musicians on a Mission.
The Monmouth County-based nonprofit – a hardworking group that matches musicians (who love to play for new audiences) with area charities that need fundraising help – has drummed up many thousands of dollars in support for grassroots efforts that lack the organizational structure of the major charities. As they did last year, the folks at “MoaM” will be programming an entire “Rock the River” stage of their own for the duration of the festival. It’s a labor of love that spotlights (among many others) the Celtic folk of Clan Suibhne (Friday at 5:30 pm), award-winning Americana troubador Kevin John Allen (Saturday at 2 pm), and dynamite guitarist Gil Velazquez (Sunday at 2 pm).
Musicians on a Mission will also be presenting a Battle of the Bands that highlights the Friday festivities on the Riverfest mainstage, with acts that include Justin & Alina, the brother-sister act (formerly known as Sibling Rivalry) who can trace their musically-inclined family pedigree to no less formidable a figure than Ethel Merman.
There’s much more on display throughout the weekend, from the kindie-rock of Miss Sherri and the Little Animal Band and the students of the Red Bank School of Rock, to the Motor City Revue showband and the party-percolating grooves of JoBonanno and the Godsons of Soul.
Take it here for complete schedule details plus a full rundown of participating food purveyors. Admission to Riverfest is free of charge, and no pets are allowed in the park for the duration of the event. Hours for Riverfest 2015 are Friday 5 to 10 pm, Saturday 11 am to 10 pm, and Sunday 11 am to 6 pm.