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RiverFest Combining Fireworks with World War I Museum, Ending Riverfront Event

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KC RiverFest is ending its annual Fourth of Day fireworks celebration at Berkley Park and combining its pyrotechnics with the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

The event put on by Friends of the River Kansas City at the Richard L. Berkley Riverfront, has been a family tradition for two decades.

Originally planned for Monday the Fourth, the new partnership will shift both the date and location to this Saturday (July 2) at the grounds of the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Stefan White, board president of the RiverFest board, said increasing traffic problems combined with the substantial new construction occurring on the riverfront prompted the organization to make the change.

“We’ve outgrown the space,” White said. “The World War I Museum has a great brand with the Stars and Stripes event. we want to take the RiverFest event and recraft it so it’s not the Fourth of July.

“This partnership lends itself to a larger event open to more musicians, artists, activities, food trucks, fireworks – and most important to everyone – more space for our Kansas City families who attend.”

White said RiverFest drew about 65,000 people last year and the traffic jams on bridges and roads leading to Berkley prompted the organization to rethink its mission.

“We want to take the RiverFest event and recraft it so it’s not the Fourth of July,” he said. “We want to continue some kind of festival and we’re trying to find a hole in the summer calendar.”

“Last year was the inaugural year for our Stars and Stripes Picnic and was a great success,” Matthew Naylor, President and CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial said in a statement.

“We are thrilled to partner with Friends of the River Kansas City this year to bring the annual tradition of KC RiverFest to the Museum and Memorial, guaranteeing a stars and stripes Independence Day celebration for a long time to come.”

The public is welcome to begin picnicking on the south grounds of the Memorial as early as 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The grounds of the free event will host local food trucks, family-friendly activities, local vendors and artisans, local entertainment and live music performances. A fireworks display will begin around 9:40 p.m.

White said he’s confident that once the streetcar extension is completed to the riverfront along with a planned pedestrian and bicycle bridge adjoining the Grand Viaduct access to Berkely Park will improve significantly.

He hopes the new RiverFest event will better celebrate the Missouri River.

“I feel our riverfront is important to the heritage of Kansas City,” he said. “Our goal is to find things we can actually do on the river.”

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