The Ottawa Riverfest is LaSalle County’s largest festival and draws crowds from all over the state. The annual event aims to celebrate the Ottawa community by bringing people together and showcasing local talent and organizations. With live music, carnival rides, a parade, a 5K run/walk and many more events, the Ottawa Riverfest promises activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Riverfest kicks off on Wednesday, July 29, with the 50th Annual Welcomeburger Picnic in Washington Square Park at 5 p.m. The picnic, hosted by the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, began as a way for visitors and new residents to be properly welcomed to the Ottawa community and to learn about local businesses. The Welcomeburger Picnic is now a Riverfest tradition, and for $25, attendees have access to all-you-can-eat burgers and bratwurst, beans, chips and drinks. The event also includes live music, games and a raffle.
Also kicking off the Riverfest weekend is the Wilson Family Show Carnival, which begins Wednesday night at 6 p.m. A variety of amusement rides and midway games are available for all ages to enjoy, including classics like the Ferris wheel, bumper cars and skeeball. The carnival is open all five days of Riverfest, July 29 through August 2.
While a wide variety of activities are available throughout the weekend, the main attraction of the Ottawa Riverfest is the free live music. Each night of Riverfest features multiple performances, including headliners Creedence Revived, Funky Monks, Silver Bullet STL and Dogs of Society – tribute bands to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Seger and Elton John, respectively. The full lineup of bands with performance times can be found on the Ottawa Riverfest events calendar.
In addition to the live music, another Riverfest favorite is the Taste of Ottawa. The event features food from several of Ottawa’s finest eateries, including The Cheese Shop ‘n’ Deli,R. Grotto Ristorante and Woody’s Steakhouse. Food and beverage tickets can be purchased in advance at City Hall or the Ottawa Visitors Center at the price of 10 tickets for $10. Tickets are also available at the gate, but at the price of only 9 tickets for $10.
Other notable activities throughout the Riverfest weekend include the Paddle Boat Races and Kids’ Fishing Rodeo event Thursday night, Easter Seals 5K Run/Walk on Saturday morning, a parade on Sunday afternoon and the LaSalle County Cruisers’ 31st Annual Car Show also on Sunday. A complete schedule of Riverfest activities is posted here.
Whether you spend the whole weekend exploring everything the Ottawa Riverfest has to offer or you pack all the fun into one day, the festival is sure to be an event your family will remember for years to come.