On the River

In nearby Albright, thousands gather every spring to celebrate music, art, and nature as part of Cheat River Festival.

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For communities along the river, this blue ribbon of water near the Pennsylvania border, patterned with rushing white rapids and filled with scrappy smallmouth bass, is more than just a source of recreation. “I’ve been awed and amazed by the extent to which this is a labor of love for so many kinds of folks. Watching all these people rally together—some with close to 20 years of involvement—they all come to the same conclusion. There is no question that this is worthy of time and commitment,” says Emma Donovan, festival coordinator. “It’s a real testament to this community.”

Nineteen years after the blowouts, the Cheat is making a comeback. Insects, fish, frogs, and even golden eagles call the Cheat home again. Where once American Rivers, Inc., a national river conservation organization, listed the river as one of the 10 most endangered waterways in the nation, the EPA now considers it a success story. “You have to have the bugs to feed the fish and the fish to feed the predators. It’s all connected, and the water quality is the biggest part of that,” Amanda says.

But one of the biggest, most visible testaments to the power of this grassroots movement is Cheat Fest itself, where the diverse threads of the movement come together in celebration of what they’ve done and what they hope to accomplish with future generations. “A lot of kids grow up in the Cheat watershed area and it has a profound impact on them,” Emma says. “The fest is a really great way to help them connect the dots.”

The 22nd Annual Cheat River Festival will be held in Albright on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Visit cheat.org/our-work/cheat-river-festival, check them out on facebook.com/Cheatfest, or call 304.329.3621 for details. A full schedule of live music can be found at http://cheatfest.org/music/2016-lineup/.

2016 Cheat Fest Band Lineup

  • Apple Pappy, 12:10–12:55 p.m.
  • Ben Gilmer, 1:10–2:10 p.m.
  • The Tom Batchelor Band, 2:25–3:25 p.m.
  • The Halftime String Band, 3:40–4:40 p.m.
  • Two Ton Twig, 5:00–6:00 p.m.
  • Drymill Road, 6:20–7:20 p.m.
  • The Jakob's Ferry Stragglers, 7:40–9:10 p.m.
  • The Josh Daniel/Mark Schimick Project, 9:30–11:00 p.m.


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