The Rapidian Home

Grand River Water Festival combines musical entertainment, discussion of water protection

Free festival offers live music along with food, drinks, and a chance to learn more about stewardship of the Michigan's waters and environment.
Attendees dancing to music from last year's festival.

Attendees dancing to music from last year's festival. /Photo by Bruce Ling

Full schedule of entertainers and speakers

  • 12:00 p.m. - 12:15 p.m. Blessing by Great Grandmother Mary Lyons, Ojibwa elder/water protect

  • 12:15 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Aspen Jacobsen

  • 1:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. Speaker, Ruth Kelly, 2nd Ward City Commissioner

  • 1:15 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Peter “Madcat” Ruth

  • 2:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Speaker, David Crandall, Citizens Climate Lobby Grand Rapids

  • 2:15 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Yolanda Lavender

  • 3:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Speaker, City of Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Whitewater

  • 3:15 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Molly

  • 4:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Speaker, Kyle Konwinski, Varnum/PFAS

  • 4:15 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Seth Bernard

  • 5:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Speaker, Great Grandmother Mary Lyons

  • 5:15 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Dede and the Dreamers

  • 6:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. TBA

  • 6:15 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Fauxgrass

  • 7:00 p.m. - 7:15 p.m. TBA

  • 7:15 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Hawks & Owls string band

  • 8:00 p.m. - 8:15 p.m. Speaker, Bruce Ling

  • 8:15 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Evolucion

The ninth annual Grand River Water Festival, an educational and musical event centered around the appreciation of water and its necessity to our lives, will take place this Saturday, June 23, 2018 at Riverside Park. The event will feature performances of various local bands and speeches from environmental activists.

The free and kid friendly festival aims to attract people to come and learn about specific water related environmental issues impacting Michigan, including PFAS contamination, the continuing water crisis in Flint, the dangers of the Enbridge pipeline Line 5, and many others, while enjoying music, food, and drinks.

Bruce Ling, the president of the parent organization Grand River Water Shield Arts and Music Council that runs the festival every year, said the event is a “celebratory call to action” asking attendees to come out to enjoy the “holistic” atmosphere while keeping in mind the seriousness of working to protect Michigan’s water supply.

“We want to do what we can to make this water a little more purer for our children and our grandchildren,” Ling said. “We all deep down feel a connection to this planet, and this festival helps people realize that.”

A variety of musical genres will be featured at the event to appeal to everyone. Some of the musicians performing, all of whom are from Michigan, include Seth Bernard, Yolanda Lavender, Dede and the Dreamers, and more.

“Music is a great facilitator for bringing people together. And what better way to group folks together to hear a message on environmentalism and sustainability than with music,” Ling said.

Some of the speakers include Ruth Kelly, 2nd Ward City Commissioner of Grand Rapids, David Crandall from the Citizens Climate Lobby Grand Rapids, and an elder and water protector of the Ojibwa tribe, Great Grandmother Mary Lyons.

An award given out every year during the festival which honors a specific individual for their commitment to water protection in Michigan will be given to Elaine Isely, the director of water programs at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. This year’s recipient of the Water Protector Award has made strides in educating the community on water protection via programs that center around stormwater policy, water trail planning for the Grand River, bringing clean water awareness to urban neighborhoods, and many other projects.

Before being a WMEAC member, Isely has done work at many other water focused environmental organizations, such as the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) at Grand Valley State University, and the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, where she worked on the organization’s Green Infrastructure Initiative.

Most of Isely’s work she described as being “behind the scenes.” She said the aim of her work in water protection and education wasn’t to seek attention, which is why receiving this award has made her feel very “humbled.”

“By receiving this award it makes me very proud of the work I've already done, because I know that I've reached people and it makes me very encouraged to continue this work in the future,” Isely said.

Parking will be free for the event, which takes place at Riverside Park, 2001 Monroe Ave. NE. More information can be found on the festival website.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.