River Ruckus 2014

Riverside Arts Market 715 Riverside Drive, July 5th at 10am – 9pm

St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Riverside Arts Market are partnering to host River Ruckus on Saturday, July 5, under the Fuller Warren Bridge. River Ruckus is a family festival that shows Jacksonville our River provides more than just a scenic view. The river is also a recreational asset for enjoyment and exploration. The day’s events include a flotilla, celebrity jump, fishing clinic, SUP board lessons, kids crafts, live music, SweetWater Brewing Co. craft beer, plus all the great art, crafts, and produce that the Riverside Arts Market offers each Saturday.

The St. Johns River in the downtown area is full of cool hidden places to kayak. The River Ruckus flotilla hosted by First Coast Outfitters will feature kayaks, SUP board, dragon boats, motorboats, and any kind of floating watercraft that will span three-quarters of a mile to the RAM dock. Prizes will be awarded for best decorated vessel, meaning this flotilla should be a spectacle to enjoy!

The river is also an amazing place for fishing. At River Ruckus, Hook the Future will provide a fishing clinic for kids and families, letting participants know where and how to safely fish on the St. Johns. Unfortunately, some creeks and tributaries of the river are posted with warning signs due to health concerns from eating fish or exposure to the water. Through awareness, education and community action, the event organizers aim to see that all of our waterways are eventually safe for recreation.

If we are concerned about the water quality in the St. Johns, then we must all try harder to change it. Local celebrities and community leaders will be taking a plunge into the river to promote the need to protect and clean it up the St. Johns. While water quality issues are a real concern, tidal changes can also make recreation very difficult and sometimes dangerous. When you and your children are splashing and playing along the banks of the river, pay close attention to the currents, avoid ingesting water, stay away from algae blooms, and look for warning signs. By taking sensible safety and health precautions and avoiding certain areas, we can enjoy swimming in our river.

If you don’t want to watch the tide chart or get in the water, boating is also a popular activity here on the St. Johns. With accessible marinas, a vibrant downtown waterfront and several tributaries great for watersports or just cruising, Jacksonville is an ideal place to own a boat. If you don’t want the hassle of owning, Freedom Boat Club is a locally-owned franchise where members have the option to use and enjoy a variety of boats anytime they want! Find out more about the ease of boating here in Jacksonville. Check out www.freedomboatclub.com for more information.

River Ruckus isn’t just an event for one day, it is a snapshot of what we could see throughout the year if we prioritize, protect, and restore the River. Recreation provides jobs, healthy living, and tourism in Jacksonville, but we need a healthy river in order to realize its full potential. If you can’t make it out to River Ruckus, check out the pictures from the event, re-post, and know what our city can be!

About Shannon Blankinship

Shannon Blankinship is the Outreach Director for St. Johns Riverkeeper and contributes regularly via the “On The River” column building awareness for the many issues that impact the St. Johns River. Shannon received her B.S. from Purdue University in Natural Resources Economics and Policy and her J.D. from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville. She is currently an elected official in Duval County serving on the Soil and Water Conservation District. She is a board member for the local nonprofit The Girls Gone Green and regularly contributes articles affecting animals and health. She is a Springfield resident and works to promote all things great in the urban core neighborhoods.