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Wilmington's new Riverfront Park opens with a splash - and local beer

Visitors splash through a water feature at the new Riverfront Park's grand opening on July 4, 2021
Kelly Kenoyer
Visitors splash through a water feature at the new Riverfront Park's grand opening on July 4, 2021.

A continuous stream of people funneled into the Riverfront Park for its grand opening on Sunday, July 4, where several local bands came to play. The Riverfront Park has been under construction since 2019, but after a ribbon cutting on Friday, July 2, Independence Day marked its first major event.

At the entrance, local food trucks surrounded a small water feature full of playing children, and the circling pavement led around a grassy alcove, all the way to the new main stage amphitheater.

For the grand opening, the amphitheater area was cordoned off as a beer garden, and the available beverages were largely local. Ellie Craig, president of Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance, was there selling drink tickets.

“This is absolutely fantastic,” she said. “We've tried to work with the city several different times to have our local craft breweries at public events such as these and what a great way to kick off the grand opening of Riverfront Park Amphitheater with all of our local breweries, local food trucks, local bands. This is Wilmington. And that's what makes this so special for us.”

Craig said the local beer selections are going to continue under Live Nation — the company has agreed to put two local beers on tap at every event, and will rotate through the local breweries.

“To have some sense of normalcy, to be able to be outdoors and interacting with people and really get a sense of community. It's just incredible.”

Hundreds of people of all ages showed up to enjoy local food carts, music, and treats in the sunshine. The event was free, but the first paid event is scheduled for July 16, when Widespread Panic will perform for three consecutive nights.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.