May 15th, 2012
A full day of on-shore and off-shore festivities are planned for the Stonycreek River of the Year Celebration on June 16 based around Johnstown’s Greenhouse Park.
The Stonycreek won the statewide River of the Year contest for restoring a fishery, being recognized as one of the best whitewater rivers in the Eastern United States, and installing a valve in Quemahoning Dam to release water at the whopping rate of 500 cubic feet per second to improve the boating on many weekends.
The June 16 activities include the official sojourn through the whitewater canyon from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as a celebration and river dedication at noon. Outfitted whitewater rafting will also be available June 17. Leisurely float trips are available both days through Coal Tubin, and if enough water is available, one option will be to float to Downtown Johnstown and stay for the official dedication and inaugural concert at Peoples Natural Gas Park, with Tab Bonoit as the headliner.
On shore at Greenhouse Park, there will be music, displays about area conservation efforts and the opportunity to watch in-river action, including a freestyle whitewater rodeo from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and a Playboater X competition from 4:30 to 6 p.m. SurfSUP Paddleboarding will provide demonstrations and lessons for riding waves while standing up from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
Music will be happening throughout the day. From 2 to 5 p.m., the Whiskey River Panhandlers will play acoustic Americana, folk, bluegrass and blues; from 5 to 8, the South Side Strays will perform an eclectic blend of jam, rock and blues; and from 8 to 11, the Halftime String Band, an Americana-Bluegrass-Jam Band from Morgantown, WV, will perform.
Camping will be available at Greenhouse Park, and water will also be release from the Que on Sunday, June 17.
Two other exciting river events are happening within a month of the river celebration:
• May 18 and 19 is the Stonycreek Rendezvous. Whitewater rafting will be available both days. The first 100 people to register through the Benscreek Canoe Club website for an outfitted whitewater trip will receive a 50% discount. Once the discounted slots are sold, people can still do an outfitted raft trip by contacting Coal Tubin of Johnstown and Wilderness Voyagers of Ohiopyle. Leisurely float trips from Greenhouse Park to the city also are available through Coal Tubin’. On May 19, the event also features a silent auction, a downriver canoe race, outfitting vendors, music, as well as food and beverages. Camping available. Visit the Benscreek Canoe Club website for more information: benscreekcanoeclub.com.
• May 31 to June 3 is the Kiski-Conemaugh River Sojourn will be held. Kayaks are available to registrants on the first three days. May 31 is a paddle through Conemaugh Gap, June 1 is a paddle through Packsaddle Gap and June 2 on the lower Conemaugh and onto the Kiski River around Saltsburg. June 3 is a whitewater day on the Stonycreek with outfitting available. Contact JLaVelle@alleghenyridge.org.
The Stonycreek promoters will be planning more river activity over the summer, including activity during the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival on Aug. 3-5 to cross-promote the music and outdoor activities and better showcase Johnstown.
Stonycreek River of the Year Celebration is sponsored by the Stonycreek Quemahoning Initiative, Benscreek Canoe Club, Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, Somerset County Tourism Program, state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Organization for Watershed & Rivers, Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project, and Lift Johnstown. The Pennsylvania Environmental Council is proud to help promote the event in support of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative.