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Once a dumping ground, recreation event shows off new vision for Modesto park

Lovers of Tuolumne River Regional Park in Modesto show off the park during RecFest

Once a dumping ground, recreation event shows off new vision for Modesto park
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Once a dumping ground, recreation event shows off new vision for Modesto park

Those who love the Tuolumne River Regional Park got to show off the part of the park just south of downtown Modesto to a few hundred outdoor enthusiasts Saturday during RecFest.

The festival is intended to introduce people to the park and let them know it is no longer the site where others dump their trash and debris and homeless people set up encampments. That new reality is emerging after much work by the city, community groups and volunteers.

“We want to re-create the space,” said Chris Guptill, leader of Operation 9-2-99, whose volunteers clean up the Tuolumne River and its environs.

Guptill said RecFest was organized by his group, the city, the Tuolumne River Trust and the Dry Creek Trail Riders.

Saturday’s activities included kayaking along nearby Dry Creek (Guptill said the Tuolumne is running too high and fast to make kayaking safe for beginners), fishing, mountain biking, disc golf and nature walks.

La Loma Junior High students and other volunteers were expected to plant 220 valley oak trees during the festival.

Longtime Modesto resident Jason Griffin said he was impressed with the park.

“I think this is pretty cool,” he said while his 12-year-old son fished along the north bank of the Tuolumne River. “I’ve never ridden the trails (here) before. It’s pretty awesome.”

The festival was held in the regional park’s gateway parcel, which abuts the south end of Beard Brook Park.

The first RecFest was held in March, and Guptill said the goal is to hold a festival in the spring and fall each year.

He said nearly 300 people attended the first RecFest and he expected nearly 400 people Saturday.

Modesto is the lead agency for the regional park, whose other members are Ceres and Stanislaus County. The 510-acre park follows the Tuolumne River for seven miles from the Mitchell Road to the Carpenter Road bridges.

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