Last year’s River Jam Festival celebrated the Biddeford-Saco community. Delilah Poupore, who helps run the event, said that she hopes future festivals will be held on both sides of the river, so members of Biddeford and Saco will feel equally involved. COURTESY PHOTO/River Jam Fest

BIDDEFORD — River Jam Festival will be held Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 this year in Biddeford, with the Fringe Fest taking over Main Street for on Friday night and offering a diverse mix of performances from Korean pop to hip-hop to soul.

From 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, Fringe Fest, hosted by Engine and sponsored by Town & Country Federal Credit Union and GWI, will kick off the weekend, taking over Main Street in Biddeford to promote diversity and youth within the Saco-Biddeford community.

Tammy Ackerman, executive director and co-founder of arts organization Engine, said that they were awarded $10,000 by Maine Community Foundation Grant to help make the festival diverse and get youth involved.

Delilah Poupore, the executive director for downtown revitalization organization Heart of Biddeford, said that high school students were directly involved in the choice of performers for the Fringe Fest part of the weekend. She said they polled a group of students about what they would want to see at a festival.

“At first, they were naming everything they were seeing at a festival,” she said. “So we said, ‘How about you name what you would want to see, not what you have seen, but what you love.’ And that’s where brainstorms around things like K-pop came up.”

The idea for K-pop performers sparked enthusiasm in everyone, Poupore said.

“We were just geeking out about it, watching YouTube videos, random dance, and it turned out that there’s a DJ up in Portland, DJ Jon, who goes to events providing K-pop music and he regularly has random dances. He was available and willing to come down that night. So a big chunk of the evening — an hour to hour and a half — is going to be K-pop music with a random dance in the middle of it.”

As K-pop music is heavily centered around dance, random dance is about participants knowing what choreography go with specific songs, which is where the challenge and fun arise.

Fringe Fest hopes to specifically focus on teenagers and college students, a group that other events may sometimes overlook, Poupore said.

“A lot of the times people say, ‘We wish teens would come to this,’ but they don’t actually offer anything the teens are interested in and there are a lot of teens, college students who are into K-pop,” she said. “It’s going to be fun for people to watch.”

The rest of the main lineup features hip-hop, rap and spoken word artists, Poupore said.

“It’s called Ruby Yacht Artists Guild,” she said. “Milo, that’s his rap name, but he’s also known as Rory, who owns this record store here called Soul Folks Records and he regularly has hip hop spoken word and rap events. We contacted him about pulling together artists he’s associated with, so they’ll be performing part of the night.”

She described Fringe Fest as a smorgasbord of a variety art, a free event for people to attend and a wonderful way to start River Jam Festival.

“It’s just wholesome fun,” she said. “Last year, it felt liberating to get to take over a street for something other than cars or traffic.”

About 60 more volunteers are still needed to help out with River Jam, Poupore said. They can sign up to assist with a variety of events throughout the weekend.

“We really need volunteers from Friday nights, Saturday mornings,” she said. “The 5K road race needs more folks on the road, the dash to the sea kayak race, helping the makers set up for the Makers Market Saturday, working the T-shirt sales tent. We actually do have a link to sign up to volunteer on the River Jam Fest page.”

She said that anyone who volunteers will receive a free River Jam Fest T-shirt.

A bookend to the summer, as Poupore described it, River Jam Festival is adding a new activity this year.

“We’re doing something called the River Rush, and it’s a 100-foot long slip and slide,” she said. “It’ll be on the grass. We bought covered inner tubes so I don’t think people will get totally soaked.”

Poupore said that she’s looking forward to the event, one of her favorite parts includes putting together the lineup of performers, but she hopes to someday have the event take place on both sides of the Biddeford-Saco divide.

“I guess the challenge for future years is to see how we can get activities on both sides of the river,” she said. “Symbolically, it’s great if we can be not only in Biddeford and on the river but also on the Saco side. But the communities cross the river and know that they’re welcome.”

For more information about this year’s River Jam Festival or Fringe Fest, visit the event’s Facebook page or website, www.riverjamfest.com.

— Catherine Bart can be reached at [email protected] or 780-9029.

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