By Catalina Righter
The first cool temperatures of fall arrived this weekend, setting the mood for the annual Chestertown RiverFest and the coinciding Fall Family Weekend at Washington College.
The events ran on Friday, Sept. 23 and Saturday, Sept. 24 and included an Illumination Ceremony & Dance Party, the dedication and oen house for Barbara and George Cromwell Hall, cruises on the Calinectes, live music from the WC Steel Pan Ensemble, and the ever-popular and competitive Annual Cardboard Boat Race, now in its 10th year.
The dance party, a first for the fest started off the party on Friday night. Sponsored by Chestertown RiverArts and SANDBOX, it featured Charlie the Peacock, a light installation shaped like a peacock whose tail feathers flashed colored lights in time with the music. Charlie was joined by local entertainers like dancer YvngSwag and DJ Smallwood & Duck Dynamo during his two nights in town.
In addition, installation works by artists Mina Cheon and Gabriel Kroiz also lit up the town. The piece titled “Diamonds, Chestertown” features five illuminated geometric structures and will be on display on Cross Street until Oct. 1.
Kay MacIntosh, economic development and marketing coordinator, said, “From the perspective of the Town and the A&E District, we were thrilled with the weekend. There was a lot of excitement and buzz downtown.”
At the Cardboard Boat Race, grey skies and chilly temperatures upped the stakes for competitors who braved the Chester with no more than paddles and cardboard.
The first three teams to finish were:
First – “Daughters of Liberty”
Second – “The People’s Boat”
Third – “Ship Happens”
Kailani Clarke, a freshman member of the Daughters of Liberty team said their win was “surreal.” She credited the design and construction of their boat by freshman Caroline Currey and senior Royce Diehl with the team’s success.
“Our craft was small, simple, and more angular than one would typically expect from a racing vessel, but the hull was several layers thick of cardboard coated with waterproof paint, which kept the river out and allowed us to push fairly hard on our paddles without fear of the boat breaking apart,” Clarke said.
Senior Zeeshawn Ali won the team spirit award and fourth place in the race after he finished the race on a paddleboard-style boat that he made with junior Nick Totis. “I would say physically taxing is an understatement,” he said.
Many boats sunk into the river before the race began. Some teams took this as a defeat, but others perservered on to the finish line clinging to the remains of their boats.