RiverFest treats crowds to cars, boats and fair rides

Published 2:09 pm Monday, May 8, 2017

The sun shone on a beautiful spring day in the park as folks attended the fourth day of RiverFest at RiverFront Park in Port Neches.

Lines of vintage cars covered the green expanse of the park as several attendees milled about, going between the car shows and the fair grounds beside the park. People camped out beneath trees while the sounds of boat engines buzzed in the background.

Out admiring the scores of cars on display, Emmett Hollier and Kirk Gillespie struck up a conversation with one of the owners, Dan Coleman.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“It’s a great event,” Hollier said of the festival. “You can’t beat the weather. It’s a way to bring the family together.”

Gillespie seemed to agree, citing the small town atmosphere of the Mid-County community.

“It’s a small town event. That’s kind of been lost in society today.”

Gillespie went on to comment on the familial nature of RiverFest’s society.

“You see parents bringing their kids out here to see the cars and exploring the era of that car with them.”

“It’s family values,” Coleman said.

Coleman got into buying and fixing up cars four years ago with an ’81 Jeep Scrambler. He now had a beautiful blue car on display at RiverFest.

“It was my first college roommate who got me interested,” Coleman said. “He had 17 cars.”

Coleman said the appeal of the car show and RiverFest at large was everyone could come out there and find something in common, a shared interest between enthusiasts and casuals alike.

“The craftsmanship being displayed is amazing,” Gillespie said. “These guys have some serious skill.”

Gillespie pointed out his own vehicle, a pristine midnight-black Jeep.

“Old or new, they’re a money pit,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s got to be something you enjoy.”

On the other side of the park at the fair, Sherry Foster and Margaret Tolliver were taking their grandchildren to enjoy some rides.

“It’s our third year here,” Tolliver said, before commenting that it was “the river, the noise, the sound of the boats” that keeps bringing her out to RiverFest.

“It’s not congested like the state fair.”

The sound of powerboats could be clearly heard over the din of conversation and laughter, as racers, spectators and officials from the U.S. Coast Guard, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department were on hand to watch the boats speed through the water.

MK1 Brian Royak was among the security officials present at the pier where racers were testing their Formula Lights powerboats.

“Today, they’re testing their boats, tweaking them and trying to find that sweet spot before the race,” Royak said.

Royak has been working security at RiverFest for five years, and he explained that part of the Coast Guard’s duties were to facilitate communication between boats and ensure a clear and safe water space between racers and recreational craft.

However, his duties did not preclude him from taking part of the beautiful weather and friendly atmosphere.

“I like interacting with the community and educating them,” Royak said. “This race is for the community and to show everyone a good day.”