When the sixth annual edition of Red Bank Riverfest pitches its tents and stages at Red Bank’s Marine Park for another extended stay Friday evening, it will stand first and foremost as an attraction with a spirit all its own: a strolling smorgasbord of Jersey-pride cuisine and local-organic talent, all playing out on the natural amphitheater of the park’s waterfront walkways and gently sloping lawns.
A presentation of the Eastern Monmouth County Chamber of Commerce with Hoboken-based This Is It! Productions, the three-day keynote to the town’s outdoor entertainment season offers attendees a rare opportunity to take a riverboat cruise on the Navesink (including Shipwreck Rum and beer cruises), in addition to an “artisan’s alley” of vendors, a “Kidszone” of rides and games, plus displays by event sponsors.
The free-admission weekender is rain or shine — and while many forecasts are calling for a chance of showers on each of the three days, it seems unlikely that the parkside tableau will be bedeviled by the sort of dramatic tempests that notoriously harshed previous editions of the music festivals.
A mix of Red Bank favorites (the Bistro, Gaetano’s) plus vendors from other Monmouth County locales (Keyport Fishery, Tony’s Italian Sausage) and points beyond will purvey the food and beverage options that range from seafood, BBQ and pizza to cooling salads, sweet treats and carnival favorites. Garden State Craft Brewers will be hosting a BeerCafé and scheduled brewmaster seminars.
As for the music, it will be wafting from two stages on the wings of a Navesink River breeze, 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 in the past two years, the folks at “MoaM” will be programming an entire “Rock the River” stage of their own for the duration of the festival, along with a Super Battle of the Bands on the Riverfest mainstage that fires its first shot at 8 p.m. on Friday.
Headlining the musical menu and taking Saturday night’s 9 p.m. sweet-spot set will be Young Rising Sons, a band that rose up from the Greater Red Bank Green to ink a contract with major label Interscope Records and generate major momentum via their 2014 debut single “High” (and its Red Bank-filmed video). Playing their first hi-profile homecomer since their 2015 release The Kids Will Be Fine (and the departure of guitarist Dylan Scott), the trio of Andy Tongren, Julian Dimagiba and Steve Patrick are expected to preview selections from their forthcoming full-length album.
There’s much more to lend a listen to throughout the weekend, from the kindie-rock of Miss Sherri and the Little Animal Band and the students of Rockit Live, to the Springsteen salute E Street Shuffle and the party-percolating grooves of Brian Kirk and the Jirks.
Take it here for complete schedule details, a rundown of participating food purveyors, plus map, directions and more. No pets are allowed in the park for the duration of the event.
Hours for Riverfest 2016 are Friday June 3 from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday June 4 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday June 5 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.