COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Pictured is the Water Festival grounds Monday afternoon getting set up for the 65th Three Rivers Water Festival. The annual festival, known to many as the unofficial start of summer in Three Rivers, begins Thursday, June 16, and runs through Saturday, June 18.

Three Rivers gears up for 65th Water Festival

THREE RIVERS — The three days before Father’s Day bring a fun-filled tradition every year to Three Rivers that draws more than the city’s population, and it returns again this week.

Beginning Thursday, June 16 and running through Saturday, June 18, the Three Rivers Water Festival comes to the city, bringing with it rides, food, and fun activities the whole family is sure to enjoy.

“This is a very big week,” Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Christy Trammell said. “For the amount of people that will be in Three Rivers this week, this will be the biggest week of the year.”

The theme of this year’s festival is the “Roaring 20s,” a sort of nod to the current decade, as well as a throwback to the 1920s. It was chosen several months ago by the Water Festival committee, and the theme will be on display with the music and in the street parade.

“We like to look at the themes we’ve had in the past and potential themes, and we’re looking for ideas of themes that are easy to implement that people can grasp and have fun with,” Trammell said.

Festivities kick off on Thursday with the carnival midway opening at 4 p.m., with food vendors opening up at festival sites at noon. The annual street parade, the big highlight of the festival, begins at 7 p.m. and starts on West Michigan Avenue near Kellogg Community Credit Union and winds its way to Main Street, where it turns north and goes all the way to Fifth-Third Bank.

This year’s parade grand marshal is Jamie Clark of Clark Logic, a local businessman who has been in the process of revitalizing older commercial properties in the area, including Maple Lane Plaza and the Whitehouse building.

Following the parade, there will be monster truck rides available in the city parking lot near the railroad tracks on West Michigan Avenue.

On Friday, the carnival midway will be open at noon. The Three Rivers Lions Club will begin their popular Ox Roast at their club hall on 420 Sixth Ave. on Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. as a drive-thru style event for the second straight year. They will continue on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or until sold out.

Late Friday, the Three Rivers Community Players will hold their first 10-Minute PlayFest at the Community Players Theatre at 15526 Millard Rd. beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $5. At 8 p.m. Friday, Habitat For Humanity of St. Joseph County will sponsor a showing of Disney’s “The Lion King” at the main stage area by the Three Rivers Fire Department.

Saturday, the day kicks off with the Hope United 5K/1-mile Superhero Fun Run at 9 a.m. behind the Fire Department, as well as the classic car, truck and motorcycle show at the same time in downtown Three Rivers. A free Kids Zone sponsored by Berkshire Hathaway will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Scidmore Park. The carnival midway opens at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Three concerts following in the footsteps of the Roaring 20s theme will take place late Saturday. It begins at 3 p.m. with the Kalamazoo Concert Band at Lafayette Park, and then for the first time in the festival’s history, the Three Rivers High School Jazz Band will perform at the Memory Isle Park Main Stage at 8 p.m. The band will be followed by jazz band Kitten and The Tonics, who take the stage at 9:15 p.m. and play until the fireworks finale at approximately 10:20 p.m.

Weather-wise, it is expected to be in the high 70s to high 80s from Thursday through Saturday with sunny conditions, with little to no chance of precipitation during the festival.

“Fingers crossed, it looks like the rain will stay away,” Trammell said, noting there will be volunteers around on Saturday to pass out cold water bottles to keep people hydrated and that there will be other volunteers throughout the week to help people attending the festival feel comfortable and welcomed.

Trammell said the events and activities make the Water Festival a fun event every year.

“We get to highlight our beautiful parks, our local companies and our community as a whole,” Trammell said.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or

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