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30th Annual Cheat River Festival 

Join Friends of the Cheat (FOC) along the banks of the beautiful Cheat River on Friday, May 3rd, and Saturday, May 4th, to celebrate the 30th annual Cheat River Festival, located at the festival grounds off Route 26 just north of Albright, WV, about 30 miles from Morgantown, WV.   

Boaters, music lovers, and families enjoy two days full of live music, dancing, art, vendors, and fun. For athletes, we hold a 5K foot race and a Down River Race through the Cheat Canyon. Many fest goers make a weekend out of it and stay in the adjacent campgrounds. Cheat Fest serves as FOC’s primary fundraiser and supports their work throughout the year. 

Live Music 

Above: Cris Jacobs – photo credit Joshua Black Wilkins 

Music is the heartbeat of the Cheat River Festival.  Headlining the fest this year – Cris Jacobs!  Also featuring The Sweet Lillies, Dark Moon Hollow, Fletcher’s Grove, The Plate Scrapers, Hello June, Badger Crossing, OYO, The Cooley Gang & Friends, Stewed Mulligan, Herb & Hanson, Kelcey Wolf, Michelle Fincham, and more! 

Cheat Fest Downriver Race and 5K Foot Race 

The Cheat River Festival weekend kicks off with one of the largest, if not the largest, mass start downriver races in the country known as Rick Gusic’s Cheat River “Massacre-ence.” The race course travels nearly 10 miles through the world-famous Cheat Canyon, dropping at a maximum gradient of 40 feet per mile. This section of the Cheat River is Class III – IV, and as a free-flowing river the character of the river, difficulty and risk vary depending on the water level, which can change quickly. Only boaters who are extremely comfortable with this type of paddling should register for the race!  

Saturday morning starts with The Cheat Fest 5K run that attracts all types of pedestrians: serious runners, casual walkers, and families with strollers. Participants start and finish at the historic Preston County Country Club, cruising along the gently rolling course through the grounds of the golf course, the rhododendron lined banks of Buffalo Creek, and along the mighty Cheat River. 

Vendors and Juried Art Market 

The Cheat Fest Vendor Market is a great place to shop outdoor gear, crafts, services, delicious food, & more from local and regional vendors! The famous Art Market is a circle of special vendors who go through a jury process to provide the finest of local art. Mother’s Day shoppers can peruse the tents and buy locally made gifts directly from the artists.  

Kid’s Activities 

Kids under twelve enter the festival for free. The Kid’s Tent is a place for kids to learn skills, create crafts, go on nature hunts, and meet other kids. Kid’s activities will include crafts made with recycled materials and acid mine drainage tie dye. The dye for this project is made from acid mine drainage, the pollutant that plagues the Cheat River watershed. The kid’s tent activities will end with a parade group photo. 

About Friends of the Cheat: 

Since the formation of Friends of the Cheat (FOC) in 1994, the organization’s primary focus has been addressing the severe acid mine drainage (AMD) pollution issues in the lower reaches of the Cheat River watershed.  Through coalition building, collaboration, and the implementation of AMD treatment systems, the Cheat River – named one of the country’s most endangered rivers in 1995 – is once again alive with life.   

FOC works with state and federal agencies to coordinate reclamation and remediation efforts, academic institutions to facilitate research projects, and a variety of other stakeholders from the business and non-profit sector.   

Restoring water quality alone will not solve the long-term problems and ongoing challenges the Cheat watershed faces.  FOC works to educate the public on local and regional issues, best management practices, and environmental stewardship in addition to providing and promoting opportunities to appreciate our natural resources through outdoor recreation. 

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