Organizers: River Days 2012 Draws a Record Crowd
The third annual event took place Sept. 15 and 16 in downtown Plainfield.
Last weekend’s River Days drew more than 5,000 people — an all-time high for the three-year-old event, according to organizers.
The 2012 event took place Sept. 15 and 16 and Riverfront Park, 24321 W. Lockport St.
Organizers chalked up the record attendance to some new elements added this year, including a fireworks show, a new “Taste of Plainfield” food court theme and tethered hot air balloon rides.
“We truly expanded our offerings this year, kicking it up a notch with a Wine & Jazz event on Friday night, a premier car show, exceptional music all weekend long, along with added special features, such as the hot air balloon and added kid friendly activities,” Plainfield Riverfront Foundation President Rob Epley said in an email. “[It was] truly a family event that I believe the community embraced.”
The 2012 event topped last year’s River Days, which drew an estimated 2,000 people.
Organizer Heather Heavens said the weather also cooperated during the two-day event.
“It couldn’t have been any better,” she said.
This year, the Kids Zone — complete with a petting zoo, train rides and inflatables — was a big hit with parents, Heavens said.
Parents could purchase a $6 wristband for one day of unlimited access to Kids Zone attractions or a $10 wristband for two days.
“They were very satisfied with the value they got,” Heavens said.
Another big draw this year was the Sept. 15 fireworks show.
“It was really a highlight of the weekend for sure,” Heavens said of the display, which was the result of a partnership between the park district and riverfront foundation.
Returning this year was the annual duck race, with 3,000 rubber duckies released into the DuPage River to win cash prizes for their lucky owners.
A “Who’s Got Class” duck race also snagged a pizza party, courtesy of Romeoville’s Brunswick Zone XL, for Micelle Winder’s fifth-grade class at River View, while Wags to Whiskers was the big winner of the “Battle of the Businesses” duck race.
Planning for next year under way
Next year, Heavens said organizers plan to expand on what worked and improve things that didn’t go as smoothly as planned.
“We had a couple obstacles we had to overcome,” she said, including congestion on the one-lane road leading to the Riverfront Park parking area.
“There was really not enough shuttling,” Heavens added, noting it was quite a walk from the parking area to the River Days site. “We do plan to step it up next year and have more shuttling.”
Organizers also hope to expand the “Taste of Plainfield” food court, adding more local restaurants to the mix.
“We’ve been told by all our food vendors that they want in for next year,” Heavens said. “People loved it.”
An expansion of the car show, which took place on Saturday, could also be in store.
“People were saying they’d like to see it both days,” Heavens said.
Other possibilities for next year include a pizza- or hot dog-eating contest, she added.
Focus on the riverfront
The event is a signature fundraiser for the Riverfront Foundation, aimed at raising money and promoting awareness of plans to redevelop the DuPage riverfront.
“It is our hope that we were able to highlight the riverfront revitalization, and create an enhanced awareness among all those in attendance,” Epley said.
Visit the Plainfield River Days Facebook page or click through the photo gallery to view pictures and highlights from the event.
You can also add your own River Days photos on Facebook, or upload them here by clicking “Upload Photos and Videos.”