Raritan River Festival

Route 18 North
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

History of the Raritan River Festival

The first Raritan River Festival was held on August 16, 1980 as part of the 300th Anniversary Celebration of the City of New Brunswick. Hundreds of people crowded the banks of the Raritan River to watch parades of decorated boats, raft races and canoe races. The day was highlighted by the arrival of folk music legend Pete Seeger on the good ship Clearwater.

In his welcome letter, original festival chairman M.J. “Mac” Babcock wrote “Historically the development of Central New Jersey was based largely on the utilization of the Raritan River to transport people and goods. Most of this commerce was centered around the head of navigation at New Brunswick.”

The festival’s goal is to celebrate the ties between the City of New Brunswick and our historic Raritan River. In Mac Babcock’s words, the festival strives to “Demonstrate the recreational and artistic potential of our riverfront.”

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