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RiverFest returns to Sturgeon this Saturday

Free food, trees, trash this weekend
2209 Envirofile river fest CC 8907
TRASH TIME AGAIN — St. Albert residents will once more sweep the Sturgeon River for trash this Sept. 24, 2022, as part of the Clean and Green RiverFest. CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

St. Albert’s biggest environmental festival is back this weekend, with plenty of trees to plant and trash to pick.

About 200 St. Albert residents are expected to head to the Sturgeon River behind St. Albert Centre this Saturday for the 24th annual Clean and Green RiverFest. Typically held each May, this eco-event sees residents collect trash and plant trees along the Sturgeon to protect wildlife.

RiverFest was cancelled in 2020 and delayed until the fall last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said city parks operations supervisor Erin Pickard. Since everyone seemed to like last year’s fall cleanup, the city has decided to make RiverFest a September event going forward.

Guests at RiverFest will receive bags, gloves, and a map indicating which part of the riverbank they should focus on, Pickard said. (Guests can clean up other parts of town if they wish.) City crews will collect the trash bags for later disposal. Trash pickers should stay out of the Sturgeon itself and alert city crews if they find any hazardous waste, such as needles.

While volunteers hauled washing machines and entire cars out of the Sturgeon during RiverFest’s early days (back when it was called Clean/Sweep Up the Sturgeon), nowadays most pickers should expect to encounter lighter fare such as wrappers and other single-use items, Pickard said. Such litter harms fish and wildlife and detracts from the river’s beauty. Volunteers gathered about 80 bags of trash last year — enough to fill a half-ton pickup truck.

Guests can also help plant around 400 native trees and shrubs along the Sturgeon to create more bird habitat, Pickard said. About 300 square metres of shoreline vegetation will be planted this RiverFest, adding to the roughly 12,600 square metres (about 1.3 hectares) of riverside forest created in the last 25 years.

In addition to a free hot-dog lunch, guests at RiverFest can stop by the environment fair to learn about local environmental organizations and initiatives, Pickard said. Expect electric scooters, crafts, music, and various nature games.

RiverFest runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sept. 24. Guests are encouraged to wear closed-toed shoes and weather-appropriate clothing, and to register in advance for a chance to win a $150 family prize pack. Visit for details.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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