Decision on RiverFest in “holding pattern” – Scholarship Pageant moved

Published 12:10 am Friday, March 20, 2020

PORT NECHES — If all goes well, Port Neches RiverFest could be the first local festival held after the recent cancellation of the South Texas State Fair due to coronavirus concerns.

But for now the only thing that has changed is the date of the Miss Port Neches Scholarship Pageant. The event has been moved to April 11, Debbie Plaia, executive director of the Port Neches Chamber of Commerce, said. Organizers are working out other details at this time.

RiverFest, held at Port Neches Riverfront Park on Grigsby Avenue and on the waterway, is set to run from April 29 to May 3. The festival includes a carnival, food and crafts vendors, car show and live entertainment with Kevin Fowler and Wayne Toups already signed up, among others. It’s also the start of the Southern Professional Outboard Racing Tour tunnel boat races.

Andy Reyes, left, and Noah Castillo enjoy a carnival ride during Port Neches RiverFest in May 2019. (File photo)

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Plaia said no decision has been made on whether the event goes on or not.

“We are discussing it on a regular basis right now,” she said. “It’s still a ways out. We are meeting with the city, the RiverFest chairman and chamber president. If there’s an announcement, we will make it sooner than later.”

Terry Schwertner, chamber president, said the decision is a day-to-day thing at this point. Lance Bradley, who is the festival chairman, is in contact with Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick, Schwertner said.

“Right now we’re in a holding pattern,” Schwertner said.

The Nederland Heritage Festival, held last week, managed to go on even after a bit of miscommunication led to the closure then reopening of the event March 13. Branick had issued an emergency declaration that afternoon at 1:40 p.m. but the order did not go into effect until Monday.

Changes have been made even since then. A 24-hour juvenile curfew is in place, bars and nightclubs are closed and there is an order stating that stating gatherings are restricted to 10 people or less.

Plaia said organizers “hope all of this is behind them soon and people can get out and get back to normalcy but, unfortunately, that’s all we can do.”