History, natural resources at heart of Riverfest

  • Friday, May 2, 2014

This weekend the Ashley River will take Summervillians back into time.

The Oakbrook Civic Association is hosting a celebration of the river’s historical and natural resources on Saturday, May 3 – the first-ever Oakbrook Ashley Riverfest.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. conservation groups, area nonprofits and historical organizations will fill the Jessen Boat Landing and Colonial Dorchester State Park with a variety of activities for the public free of charge.

Town Councilman Bob Jackson, a lead organizer of the event, said there will be an interest for everyone.

For history buffs, Drayton Hall, Middleton Place and Magnolia Plantation will be telling tales and giving demonstration of the Revolutionary War and pre-Civil War plantation eras. There will also be historical performances from the Edisto Indian Dancers and the Summerville-Dorchester Museum in partnership with the Flowertown Players.

The event won’t just focus on history; roughly a dozen conservation groups, including Audubon Biedler and the Coast Guard Auxiliary, will be represented to keep the public up-to-date on protecting the river.

Several area nonprofits, such as the Oakbrook Rotary and Oakbrook Chamber Council, will be providing educational events for youth.

“The theme of the event is really about history, the importance of the river in the past, and protecting the river in the future,” said Councilman Jackson.

Visitors can park at the Bi-Lo grocery store on Dorchester Road for the event. From there guests will be transported to the Jessen Boat Landing via shuttle. Councilman Jackson said it’s important guests go to the boat landing first to get a hand stamp, which will grant free admission into Colonial Dorchester.

For the councilman, the Riverfest is about teaching area residents as much about the river’s history as it is about its future.

“We want people to understand how important the river is to Summerville, economically and ecologically,” he said. “It’s a vital and very necessary part of our community.”

Jackson said he hopes the event will contribute to Oakbrook revitalization efforts, and the exposure of the river history will lead to a combination of “seeing what development may come to Oakbrook, but also protecting the river.”

He said the goal is to host a bigger and better event next year, possibly at a Dorchester County park or at a local plantation.

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