BERLIN — The month of October brings autumn foliage, crisp McIntosh apples, the World Series, and RiverFire. For the 14th year in a row, RiverFire boosts a full schedule of activities topped by the lighting of the bonfires on the Androscoggin River and the hundreds of glowing jack-o-lanterns on the pedestrian bridge.
The Halloween-themed celebration takes place this Saturday, Oct. 14, at Service Credit Union Heritage Park and the weather forecast promises a typical fall day.
Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Paula Kinney said it has been a very successful year of activities for the organization with record level crowds for the Jericho Mountain ATV Festival, WingZilla and Camp RZR. She said she anticipates a spectacular RiverFire this year.
“We had a great year of events and we’re going to knock this one out of the park,” she said.
One of the favorite events is the Zombie ATV Poker Run with contestants encouraged to dress and decorate their vehicles to fit the Zombie theme. New this year, the poker run will start and end at the park, with registration from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The last zombie must leave the park by 11 a.m. and all have to be back by 2:30 p.m. Kinney said the run is designed with enough stops to allow individuals to participate by car, truck, motorcycle, and pedal bike as well as ATV. Prizes will be awarded for first, second, and third place hands plus one for the worst hand. There will also be a prize for best use of theme. The fee is $15 per hand with extra cards $3 each. Proceeds go back to RiverFire and future Zombie Poker Runs.
“We have some great prizes donated by local businesses,” said Kinney.
The main celebration gets underway at 2 p.m. at the Service Credit Union Heritage Park and events runs through 9 p.m. with food and fun for everyone. Admission to the park is free.
The 5k Run/Walk, hosted by Coos County Family Health Services, also takes place at 2 p.m., with runners leaving the park on Route 16, crossing the 12th Street Bridge, proceeding north to cemeteries, and then back to the park. Proceeds from the race benefit Response to Sexual and Domestic Violence. Hand crafted awards will be given to the top male and female finishers as well as awards to the top finishers in the various age categories. There will also be a team competition this year. People can register on-line at racemenu.com. Last year the race drew over 200 runners and walkers.
Special for kids is a Bouncy House Village sponsored by Chapman Recycling and Nordic Construction. The purchase of an $8 bracelet allows unlimited bouncing until 6 p.m. The Berlin High boys soccer team will be running the village and all proceeds will go to support the team.
The Little Hooves Traveling Petting Zoo returns with plenty of animals for kids (and adults) and will be open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hayrides get underway at 3 p.m. with antique tractors pulling loads of kids and parents throughout the day. The hayride leaves from the parking lot, heads north over the 12th Street Bridge and making a return loop to the park. The fee is $4 per person. The rides continue until 8 p.m.
The RE/MAX hot air balloon will be located at Horne Field and rides are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting. The fee is $5 with all proceeds donated to the Berlin Main Street Program.
Judging for the Granite United Way’s Scarecrow Contest will take place at 1 p.m. Residents and families are encouraged to use “Live United” T-shirts in their scarecrow designs and the winner of the contest will receive a Kindle Fire.
“This is a great opportunity to have some fun and add to the excitement of RiverFire,” said Laura Boucher, Granite United Way’s Northern NH Area Manager.
T-shirts and scarecrow contest registration sheets can be picked up the week prior to RiverFire from Laura Boucher at the Service Credit Union Heritage Park, or at the Granite United Way Office, 961 Main Street Berlin. All scarecrows must be delivered and registered by 1 p.m. on Saturday to The winner will receive a Kindle Fire.
For more information contact Laura Boucher at (603) 752-3343.
The children’s Halloween costume parade lines up at 5 p.m. at the Brown School and proceeds down Main Street to the Heritage Park where the “Not So Scary Halloween Party” will get underway at 5:30 p.m. Sponsored and hosted by Service Credit Union, the party has expanded to a second building in the logging camp with games, prizes, and candy for the kids.
D.J. Graphyz will get the musical entertainment underway at 5 p.m. with a mix of country, classic dance tunes, and some top 40 hits using the new stage at the park. He will warm that crowd up for hometown favorite band Duke, which is back together and returning to RiverFire where it has been a favorite performer. Duke will take the stage at 6 p.m. and play until closing.
The highlight of the celebration is always the lighting of the hundreds of carved pumpkins on the bridge and the lighting of the bonfires in the river. Both occur at dusk, creating a dynamic scene with the fires and lit jack-o-lanterns contrasting with the dark night.
Food is a staple of RiverFire with local vendors offering everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to Chinese food and fried dough. No party would be complete without a cold beverage and the N.H. Distributors will be staff its popular beer tent from 2 p.m. until closing.
With parking limited at the park, Tri-County Transit will be providing public shuttle rides to RiverFire. The transit will run a public shuttle between the Service Credit Union Heritage Park and either the parking lot at the N.H. District Courthouse at 650 Main St. or the Northeast Credit Union parking lot on Main Street from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. The cost is $2 to ride all evening.
City streets are open to ATVs and Kinney noted that the recent rain has improved trail conditions. She said riders should make their way to the park for the festivities.
Kinney expressed her thanks to the many volunteers, businesses, and chamber members who make RiverFire possible. She also thanked the sponsors of the event including lead sponsor Service Credit Union and event sponsors Northeast Credit Union, Northway Bank, AutoNorth Superstore, Great North Woods Container, Capone Iron, Nations EMS Institute, and Chapman Recycling.
For additional information, call (603) 752-6060, or go to riverfirenh.com or facebook.com/riverfire.berlinnh.