Berkshire East to host Deerfield Fest, a ‘celebration of outdoor recreation’

  • Bob Nasdor, Northeast stewardship director for American Whitewater, pictured in 2021 on the Fife Brook section of the Deerfield River. Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 8/4/2022 4:05:48 PM

CHARLEMONT — Deerfield Fest, a 28-year-old festival and fundraiser celebrating the agreement between the recreation businesses on the Deerfield River and the power companies who operate dams on the river, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 6.

A settlement agreement was reached in 1994, setting the number of days during the warmer months where power dams on the Deerfield River release water, allowing residents and tourists to flock to the banks of the river for a variety of recreational activities.

The festival is hosted by American Whitewater, a nonprofit founded in 1954 with a goal of preserving rivers for recreational purposes. According to Bob Nasdor, Northeast stewardship director for American Whitewater, the group played a pivotal role in making the agreement in 1994, and continues to push for other conservation work across the county, including at the dam in Turners Falls.

“If we didn’t have access to the river with a set schedule, Berkshire East and Zoar would not be able to operate,” said Nathan Marr, director of marketing for Berkshire East Mountain Resort. “It is critical that American Whitewater is there beside us to ensure that these releases continue to happen and that’s why the event is so important to us.”

People are expected to boat, float and raft on the Deerfield River all day long, after which they are invited to stop by Berkshire East for the festival from 5 to 10 p.m.

Marr said participation varies greatly depending on weather conditions, but there has been anywhere from 200 to 500 attendees in past years.

This year’s Deerfield Fest will include 20 vendors, food, beverages, two bands and a silent auction. Admission is $10, which supports American Whitewater. In past years, Nasdor said, $20,000 has been raised for the organization.

“The main focus is not fundraising,” Nasdor said. “It is to build community and educate about river restoration. Above all, this is meant to be a celebration of outdoor recreation.”

According to Nasdor, about 50,000 people take advantage of the section of the Deerfield River that Zoar Outdoor is located on for kayaking, rafting and tubing.

“There is an expression in conservation, you have to love it to protect it,” he said. “Part of this event is to give people the opportunity to love being on the river.”

Reach out to Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or


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