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Collaboration Creates Community Celebration Rock the River FXBG

By Susan Larson. Photos by Rock the River FXBG

The third annual Rock the River FXBG festival will be held Saturday, June 3, 2017, at Old Mill Park in downtown Fredericksburg.

The grassroots event is hosted by local businesses and nonprofits as a celebration of the Rappahannock River. It coincides with the American Canoe Association’s (ACA) Great Rappahannock Whitewater Canoe Race, which marks its 37th year in 2017.

Rock the River was spearheaded by April Peterson, who with her husband Keith owns River Rock Outfitter in downtown Fredericksburg.

“When we first opened up shop, boaters approached us to suggest a bigger party in celebration of the ACA’s Great Rappahannock Whitewater Canoe Race,” April said. “The race is an established part of Fredericksburg history.”

“I looked at existing events in the region. Roanoke has the Go Outside Festival and Richmond has Dominion Riverrock,” she said. “I saw that Fredericksburg isn’t far behind these communities; certainly we’re on par with them in the resources we have available in our outdoor spaces.”

Fredericksburg has long had strong outdoor programs, with the ACA national headquarters located in downtown Fredericksburg, Friends of the Rappahannock and the Virginia Outdoor Center located along the river, and the city’s Parks and Recreation staff. April knew it would take a collaborative effort among its outdoor partners to pull off a festival worthy of Fredericksburg and the Rappahannock River.

“We had no doubt that we wanted to be involved,” said Chris Stec, chief operations officer for the ACA and lead organizer of the Great Rappahannock Whitewater Canoe Race. “We thought a festival would enhance the race experience by providing a venue for paddlers to celebrate after their race, and by building camaraderie among the paddling community.”

The ACA provides leadership and event management experience to Rock the River. “Rock the River is an opportunity for ACA National to participate in a local event, and to demonstrate across our organization the importance of community and local partnerships” Stec said.

Rock the River expands each year, providing additional opportunities for local vendors to participate. “We can expect this year to be no exception, with several surprises to be announced over the coming months,” April said. A new Rock the River website is set to launch in early April.

“I want others in Fredericksburg to see what collaboration can accomplish,” April said. “We’re a group of businesses and nonprofits that work in the same space, and are also able to work together to plan this event. It works because we’re passionate about recreation, conservation, and the assets we have here in Fredericksburg, especially the Rappahannock River” she said. “It shows that these types of partnerships can be done to benefit a larger population of people. I love that about our particular group.”

Rock the River is free. Early admission tickets to the Beer Garden are $25, and will available on the website.

“Rock the River is a big party kicking off the start of summer and celebrating the outdoors,” April said.

Various sponsorships are available for 2017. If interested in a sponsorship, or if you’d like to be a vendor at Rock the River, contact April at [email protected] for more information.

Rock the River is sponsored by the American Canoe Association, River Rock Outfitter, Spencer Devon Brewing, Friends of the Rappahannock, Virginia Outdoor Center, FredEvents, Hyperbole Marketing and Advertising, and Fredericksburg.Today online news.
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