FORT LEE, Va. (April 13, 2017) -- In an effort to expand its popular annual awareness event, the Fort Lee Environmental Management Office has teamed up with Friends of the Lower Appomattox River and Petersburg for the 2017 RiverFest celebration that is meant to educate the surrounding community about environmental stewardship. RiverFest is set for April 29, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Appomattox Riverside Park in Petersburg.

The event – located at 24909 Ferndale Road – is free to the public and will feature a variety of activities such as youth fishing workshops, kayak-paddling workshops, a canal history ride, and a trail walk. The Fort Lee partnership adds several new components to the festival, said John Allen, an environmental protection specialist in Fort Lee’s EMD.

“Fort Lee will construct an obstacle course for kids made from all reused and recycled materials,” he said. “The EMD also will bring archaeology demonstrations. Family and MWR will have kayaks and a rock climbing wall.

“The Fort Lee Army Band also will perform,” continued Allen. “Other partners and exhibitors will offer hiking, macroinvertebrate expeditions, and dozens of other activities and demonstrations. There also will be food trucks.”

Allen said he sees the event as an opportunity to provide a better experience for the community.

“RiverFest already attracts large crowds, and most live within close proximity to Fort Lee,” said Allen. “It’s an excellent opportunity to work with an established event to combine the Fort Lee audience with our neighboring communities.”

Due to the event participation, Fort Lee will not host its annual Earth Day, as many of the post’s contributors also attend RiverFest.

“Fort Lee’s Environmental Management Division has hosted several different formats of Earth Day celebrations over the years,” said Allen. “This year, our goal is to reach out beyond the fence line to spread our message of environmental awareness and sustainability to the surrounding community.”

Several program exhibitors also will be on hand at RiverFest to offer information and activities for attendees. They include: Appomattox River Soil and Water Conservation District; Blacksmith, Grizzly Forge; Buzzing Bee Honey; Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation; a fire truck; Dinwiddie Master Gardener; Francis Bland Randolph Chapter, N.S.D.A.R.; Matoaca Village History; Petersburg Area Regional Tourism; Prince George Regional Heritage Center; Pocahontas Chapter –Virginia Master Naturalists; Virginia American Water; Thunder Eagle Wildlife Rescue; Virginia Canal and Navigation Society; Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program; Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; Virginia Department of Forestry; and Larry Holt, a historian and author.

In recent years, Fort Lee’s Earth Day celebration was a joint venture with the annual Safety day event. Safety Day has not been replaced and it is set for May 24, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Main Exchange.