TOWANDA - Thousands of people are expected to attend Riverfest, the three-day festival in downtown Towanda that begins today, organizers said.

Riverfest, which is held along the Merrill Parkway, will feature carnival rides, games, karaoke, live music and other live entertainment, and much more.

There will be 50 to 60 vendors at the festival selling food, crafts and other items, said Mary Ann Harris, a member of the Riverfest Committee.

Today, the midway opens at 5 p.m., and Riverfest's opening ceremony will take place at 5:45 p.m.

The band Covert Action, which was "really, really good" when they played at Riverfest two years ago, will perform at Riverfest again at 7 p.m. today, Harris said.

Covert Action "plays a little of everything" and "people wanted them back," she said.

On Friday, the midway will open at 5 p.m., open karaoke will start at 7 p.m., and local entertainers Andy Boardman and Bob Brenner will perform at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, there will be activities at Riverfest all day long, with the midway scheduled to open at 1 p.m.

A highlight of Riverfest is the annual Fire over Water fireworks show, which will start at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The fireworks show, which usually lasts the better part of a half-hour, "is always one of the best in the region," said Joel Crayton, a member of the Riverfest Committee.

A lot of people tell the organizers of Riverfest that its fireworks show is as good as ones in big cities, such as New York and Boston, according to Crayton.

Admission to Riverfest is free.

New this year at Riverfest is a performance by Moreland the Magician, also known as David Moreland of Ithaca, N.Y., who will perform on the lower stage at noon on Saturday.

Riverfest also features hay rides by the Towanda Lions Club on Friday and Saturday, and the Little Miss/Mr. Riverfest Contest at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

For the second year in a row, the Abuse & Rape Crisis Center will host the 5K run/walk at Riverfest, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday behind the Bradford County Courthouse. Registration for the run/walk starts at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Last year, over 100 people participated in the run/walk.

Each year, attendance at Riverfest grows, Crayton said.

There will be wristband specials, where you can ride all the carnival rides as many times as you want for $8, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. today and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

A section of the Merrill Parkway, located between Park Street and the Robert Farley Connector, will be closed for Riverfest through the late afternoon on Sunday.

Saturday morning, the rest of the Merrill Parkway will be closed down temporarily for the 5K run/walk.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.