Linden’s Annual Riverfront Festival 2019 was on Friday evening launched under the theme “Embracing the river” with several activities planned for the momentous occasion.
The celebration brings to light the uniqueness of Linden being a town and more so one that has a river which runs through it.
Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon in declaring the festival open said the riverfront development is part of the development envisioned for a “Green Guyana” and is part of the Green State Development Strategy which will see Guyana transformed into a “Green State” and economy within the next thirty years.
As such, he said the attitude towards the environment which includes rivers, creeks, trees and the air that we breathe has to significantly change in keeping with that strategy.
“Guyana, as you are aware, is now deemed the number one ecotourist destination in the world, and this means that our ecotourist product that as a people we have to take the benefits that accrue from such a status. We have to seek the benefits that would see tourists coming to Guyana to enjoy that product that we have here…to enjoy this waterfront. So, when people come to Linden… to Guyana they know that there’s a waterfront festival that takes place every year…”, he noted.
Harmon added that Government supports the initiative, which he deemed an important one, and will continue to do so in an effort to develop the waterfront.
The initiative was Samuel Wright’s brainchild. He was also the coordinator and in delivering an overview of the festival, he said the idea of working towards the development of the Linden riverfront was developed after travelling overseas.
He reminisced on his younger years swimming in the river and pointed to ways in which it is utilised for simple things.
Wright said the idea for the riverfront development came after the realisation that not much attention is paid to the water these days.
He said it is important to have an understanding of the river and how it contributes to our way of life, and also to be mindful of the harm it can have on future generations.
He said the Riverfront Development Plan which was created aims at protecting the river and the need for a comprehensive development plan to enhance it.
“The riverfront festival is simply an attempt to bring us to the river in a very conscious way. What do we do for the riverfront festival? We simply do the things we do all the time over a shorter period of time…The riverfront festival says we’re bringing to the river [and] we’re doing the things which are important to us…and we’ll celebrate the river by doing the things we always do”, he said.
Meanwhile, Linden Mayor Waneka Arrindell stressed the need for all to realise and understand the importance of the river, noting that it is so much more than we imagine. She said the river aids in the commerce and diversification of Linden’s economics.
“It’s a lifeline for development, for the development of our community. It stands as the main water source for our community. And the connection that bridges the gap between Wismar and Mackenzie and sometimes sends the significant message of how two persons across the river can unite. Two varying cultures as you walk along. This river connects that culture together to call it Linden and we are proud of that”, the Mayor said.
She also pointed to the need to turn to ecotourism by utilising available resources one of which is the river, more so since Guyana has been named number one destination for ecotourism. She also urged all to think of ways of developing the riverfront and waterways.
The Linden Riverfront Development Plan focuses on working towards goals such as access along the riverfront (parks, open spaces, marinas, cultural facilities, etc), environmental stewardship and green designs of facilities, historic preservation, economic access and opportunity and the development of a working riverfront supporting aspects such as shipping, transportation, fishing and recreation amongst others.
On opening day, the festival also featured the Linden Riverfront Development Forum and live boxing and music at the Wismar Market tarmac.
On Saturday, a Market Day was hosted at the Wismar Market tarmac. Also, on the calendar of activities are a bike parade along Republic Avenue to Burnham Drive, fishing competition along the riverfront, cross country races at Wismar, kids’ fest at Co-op Crescent, street football at the Mackenzie Market tarmac and club hopping at clubs along the river.
On Sunday, June 30, church services were held along the riverfront, a senior’s brunch at the Pensioners Hall, an open river swim activity at Dejonge’s Landing at Co-op Crescent, Colours event featuring jazz, fashion, poetry and wine tasting at the Watooka lawns.
On Monday, July 1, a regatta, river sports, food fair and wash down events are scheduled to be hosted at the Egbert Benjamin Centre.