BERLIN — Blessed with a beautiful fall day, it was a record-breaking year for RiverFire.
“Mother Nature was good to us. We did great,” said
Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Paula Kinney.
Kinney said officials estimated 6,000 people took part in the festivities on Saturday, the biggest turnout yet. By this time last year the region had experienced its first snowfall so many took advantage of the mild sunny day to enjoy a last day outside.
The ATV Zombie Poker Run had its biggest turnout by far, with 330 entries roaming the roads and trails of the area. It was also a record year for the Pumpkins on the Bridge with over 500 carved and lit pumpkins reflecting onto the Androscoggin River. And the 5K race set a record with 302 runners crossing the finish line. The first runner across was Kolbe Delafontaine with a time of 17:58 while the first woman finisher was Kelly Kernan with a time of 23:42.
Kinney said food vendors reported doing a brisk business selling a variety of food including sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers, fried dough, poutine, nachos, whoopee pies and ice cream, and there was the ever popular beer tent.
New this year was the “Dare to be Scared” haunted trailer with 120 feet of sheer terror and Kinney said it was a hit.
The hayrides are always popular as are the petting zoo, bouncy house, costume party, cornhole tournament and helicopter rides.
But the Service Credit Union Heritage Park really came alive after dusk when bonfires on the 25 boom piers are set ablaze and it looks like the river is on fire. Tea lights in the pumpkins are also lit and people stand in line to see the creative carvings.
The rock and roll band, “Riot Act” performed on stage and the park, bridge and river walk were jammed with people enjoying the night.
Kinney said RiverFire attracted many overnight tourists and said restaurants and businesses reported the entire weekend was busy. ATV traffic in both Gorham and Berlin was heavy.
She said chamber officials are already talking about next year and making changes to make sure they are ready to handle the increasing popularity of the event.