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Community members share what they will miss most about Port Neches RiverFest

PORT NECHES — The cancellation of Port Neches RiverFest 2020 comes as a great loss to the community that has been celebrating the tradition for years.

The festival was scheduled to take place April 29 through May 3 at Port Neches Riverfront Park on Grigsby Avenue and the waterway.

RiverFest Chairman Lance Bradley formally cancelled the event Thursday due to safety and health considerations regarding COVID-19.

As the committee begins the process of planning RiverFest 2021, the Port Neches community mourns the loss of this year’s festivities.

For Alli Doty, a Port Neches native, RiverFest is a family tradition.

“My mom, Carol Ann Doty, typically buys all three of her grandkids ride passes,” she said. “This year she was going to purchase five with the new additions to the family. We are heartbroken. This has been something our family has done together for the last six years. Prior to babies we enjoyed going to watch the boat races and entertainment.”

Doty said she is going to miss watching her kids ride carnival rides the most.

“There is nothing better than seeing the excitement in their eyes and joy in their smiles,” she said. “My son loves Riverfest. We’ve gone for many years. He loves the rides and the boats. My heart is broken for our community.”

Andy Reyes, left, and Noah Castillo enjoy a carnival ride during Port Neches RiverFest 2019.

Melissa Cox travels from Orangefield every year to take her son to the boat races.

“The boat races are always the weekend of my son’s birthday and we have went every year since he was a few days old,” she said.

Misty Duval, along with many others, will be missing the food, including the most popular pork-a-bobs from Piggin’ Out.

”It’s a grilled pork tenderloin cut into pieces and put on a stick,” she said. “(Piggin’ Out) has the best flavored ones. We will go out there just to get that and nothing else.”

Groves resident Jennifer Schexenider said she’d miss the entire atmosphere.

Jessica Michael Passmore and Laurie Graffagnino said they’d both miss the great music.

This year’s lineup would have included The Curse & The Cure, Roger Creager, Wayne Toups, Kevin Fowler and more.

Port Neches Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Plaia said she the loss of the 2020 RiverFest is felt throughout the community.

“I will miss everything,” she said. “Especially the community and all the people out and about. All the events and seeing the kids getting their RiverPasses, it’s always fun watching how they’ve grown each year. It will be missed greatly.”

The Miss Port Neches Pageant will be postponed until further notice.