ALEXANDRIA BAY, New York (WWNY) — Riverfest is back and this year’s festival for soldiers at Fort Drum was bigger and better than ever according to event organizers.
The event, held annually in Alexandria Bay, is part of the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program of the Association of the United States Army and Fort Drum.
The one-day street festival has been missed for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Organizers were thrilled to be able to hold the event this year as a way to give back to the Fort Drum community. They said over 3,000 tickets have been sold for this year’s event.
“Soldiers and their family members give so much to us. So we just want to take a little part of the day to show them thank you, and we appreciate all that they do,” said Michelle Winter, director of Fort Drum MWR.
“I like to volunteer my time and I like to see people smile, whether they are soldiers or family members,” said AUSA organizer Michael Russell.
The soldiers say it means a lot to them to be part of the community in the north of the country.
“I think it’s a good gesture. It gives soldiers enough time to hang out with family and friends, and just give the soldiers a good experience,” said specialist Alyssa Atweri.
Those in attendance were able to hop on Uncle Sam’s Boat Tours for a trip to Boldt Castle. The troops also had the opportunity to practice their ax throwing, participate in a game of cornhole and enjoy a barbecue lunch provided by AUSA.
“The buffet, definitely the buffet. I was a big fan of free food. Hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, macaroni salad. All the fun stuff, it was just plain old barbecue,” said pundit Matthew Moore.
Many Fort Drum soldiers said they had been looking forward to the festival for over a year now and were happy to be able to spend the day off base and in the community.
“I just hang out with the peloton. To get the chance to get to know some of the new guys better,” said pundit David Shropshire.
“For the new guys here, they haven’t explored the area around here. So it’s a perfect reason to get out and explore what upstate New York has to offer,” said Sergeant Marco Echevarria.
Many businesses and restaurants in Alexandria Bay eagerly awaited the return of Riverfest and the return of Fort Drum soldiers and their families.
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