There are multiple aspects to the Reno River Festival, and the low water levels impacted some parts last year. The kayaking competition, at the heart of the event location, was canceled for the first time in the 12-year history of the event due to low water levels.
May marks the beginning of the kayaking season. This year, the Reno River Festival will feature the 2016 Freestyle National Championships, which will bring the best kayakers in the country to the Truckee River and hopefully re-establish the Whitewater Park as one of the top in the world.
The festival events routinely attract over 35,000 visitors, according to the Reno River Festival website. This high volume of visitors at the river in one weekend may help drive the water recreation tourism for the area as people witness water actually flowing down the river.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), March 25 showed about 800 cubic feet per second flowing down the river. Kerri Lanza, engineering manager for Environmental Services of Reno Public Works, indicated that there is water in the river bank-to-bank and it is flowing at a brisk clip. Lanza also shared that in June of 2015, the river was flowing only at about 100 cubic feet per second. In August, there was no flow coming out of Lake Tahoe, the only releases were from upstream storage dams at approximately 35 cubic feet per second or less. “From my window here at city hall, there was barely a trickle of flow down the river,” Lanza said.
Although the lack of water did not hurt turnout for the event last year, Reno River Festival is adding a 5-mile bike ride through downtown to hopefully drive turnout up even more this year. Liquid Blue Events, who purchased the event last year, hopes to roll out something new every year to keep attendance high. “People love Riverfest,” Jess Horning, co-owner and founder of Liquid Blue Events, stated.
Attendance is important to the Reno River Festival, as it helps create opportunities to keep the event lucrative. The event has changed hands over the years, partially due to revenue struggles. Horning, explained the need to find consistent income to keep the event profitable.
One of the monetary difficulties the event faces is that it is free to the public. The incorporation of different villages, including craft, retail and a beer garden, helped entice people into spending money at the event last year. Liquid Blue Events is also focusing on the event providing strong branding, meaning companies that join as a sponsor in some capacity will have great exposure to people of the community over the course of the entire weekend. These sponsorships help keep the event profitable. Horning also said that Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) and the City of Reno have been of great help promoting and supporting the event.
Liquid Blue Events is hoping to see continued growth for the event that had record high attendance last year.
Their goal is for Reno River Festival to be a kickoff event for summer in the northern Nevada region. The event provides unique exposure for downtown Reno. Horning, explained that having a river run through the heart of a city’s downtown district is something worth drawing attention to and creating an event around. “The event invites people to see the beautification of downtown [Reno] and what has happened,” Horning elaborated.
The Reno River Festival takes place Mother’s Day weekend, May 7-8, along the Truckee River downtown. For more information, visit http://www.renoriverfestival.com.
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