Port Neches officials ready for RiverFest fun; police talk safety plans

Published 12:28 am Sunday, April 24, 2022

Port Neches RiverFest fun kicked off this weekend with the BBQ Cook-Off at Port Neches Park. This fun gets started for real on Wednesday.

Local officials said the community is excited and ready for the festival.

“I think everyone is enthused about it coming back,” RiverFest Chairman Lance Bradley said. “Tickets are on sale. The cook off is this weekend and next Wednesday is the kickoff for the rest of the festival and carnival.”

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READ MORE: Check out the RiverFest Schedule of Events; fun begins Wednesday.

Last year’s festival was the first since the pandemic began. Bradley hopes the momentum from 2021’s record turnout carries over to this year.

“The planning has been really smooth,” he said. “As long as the weather cooperates, I think it will go smooth this year.”

Bradley  is most looking forward to a fan-favorite event.

“The boat races are always the most popular,” he said. “That is the focus of RiverFest, really. That is the Thunder on the Neches. The bands come. Wednesday is Faith and Family night. Thursday is some local folks. Friday is Texas Country and Saturday is Cajun.”

Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine is also looking forward to being out at the festival.

“I am anticipating another record crowd this year,” he said. “I am there almost every night for sure.”

Drew Murhpy, left, and his father Mike Murphy set up for the BBQ Kick-Off. (Chris Moore/The News)

Lemoine said the department will also have a strong presence for the festival.

“Of course, we have the entertainment complex, where alcohol is sold and consumed,” he said. “There is a heavy presence there, but it is fenced-in and controlled. We have plenty of people there, and we really never have any trouble. We have plenty of officers out on the grounds, especially in the carnival area, where a lot of children are. You commonly have kids getting separated from parents.”

Lemoine said the department will also have officers patrolling the surrounding neighborhoods and streets.

“We usually don’t have any serious problems,” he said.

The police chief looks forward to “milling around” the festival.

“Everyone seems to like the entertainment and fireworks on Saturday,” he said. “It is always a big hit. It is just a good, family oriented event. I like going to the pet show with the kids. They have art contests, washers and horseshoes. I just take it all in.”

The cook off runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

Wednesday’s events start at 8 a.m. with the Kick-Off Coffee.