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About the Festival

Since 1980, the Raritan River Festival combines environmental advocacy, live music, arts and culture and fundraising for a family-friendly outdoor event that is unique to New Brunswick.


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.”


The festival was awarded “Living Legend” status by the United States Library of Congress and continues to strive to combine community entertainment and celebration with environmental awareness and action.

Please join us on festival day to continue to celebrate the legacy of this community event!

The Raritan River Festival and Rubber Duck Race is presented by:

NB-300x232  Beez

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