This article comes from our electronic archive and has not been reviewed. It may contain glitches.

As the 13th annual Riverfest approaches, a year of planning and preparations will gear up. But as visitors enjoy the food, crafts and activities this Friday and Saturday, they may overlook the reason this yearly celebration goes so smoothly: An army of dedicated volunteers.

In all, about 300 volunteers will work the two-day event. A number of area businesses encourage their employees to volunteer; others are simply individuals giving service to the community. Most volunteers will work in three-hour shifts with a total of 50 volunteers on the scene at all times.

Although most of the volunteers will limit their work to the actual event, some have donated their time and effort throughout the entire year to ensure this year's Riverfest is a huge success. Many of the volunteers are also veterans of past Riverfests.

Volunteers receive no financial rewards, and many of the duties are somewhat thankless such as manning food and drink booths, selling tickets, and handling post-Riverfest cleanup. Intense heat typically makes the work more demanding.

Other volunteers play a more direct role in planning the celebration. Riverfest committee members coordinate everything from entertainment to concessions.

These volunteers work to bring new attractions to Riverfest each year. The riverboat cruises are an exciting addition, with several of the excursions already sold out. The non-profit Riverfest Association hopes to break even on the boat tours. A variety of main-stage music, strolling entertainers, and fireworks will add to the Riverfest enjoyment. The committee members continue to do a good job to attract a wide range of entertainment and activities for all ages.

As a way to help ensure the celebration's family atmosphere, alcohol will be restricted to the beer gardens this year. Cape Girardeau's open-container law will also be strictly enforced, which means no coolers of alcohol will be allowed downtown.

Riverfest provides a grand tourist attraction for Cape Girardeau. Next to the district fair, it probably draws the largest two-day crowds. But Riverfest also earns well-deserved support from area residents as well. It's a good chance to celebrate our river heritage.

As we enjoy Riverfest this year, let's pause to honor hundreds of dedicated volunteers. Like Old Man River, they just keep rolling along.