Carp welcome spring

Easter is still a couple weeks away but children can get a jump on honing their egg hunting skills this Saturday at the Ohio River Museum.

Welcome Back Carp is an annual event that serves also as the official opening of the museum for the season. The “carp egg” hunt is a tie-in to both the upcoming holiday and a tradition that began in the early 1990s – waiting for the return of carp to the Muskingum River.

“It is a misconception that the carp go to the Bahamas or somewhere,” said Glenna Hoff, education/program director for the Ohio River and Campus Martius museums. “They’re here year ’round, they just go closer to the bottom.”

As the weather warms up, the fish start looking for food and this event offers a good opportunity for young and old alike to get close to nature.

“We are going to feed them off the Valley Gem deck,” Hoff said. “They’ll eat fish food and bread mostly … they really do have kind of a feeding frenzy.”

Roughly 3,000 plastic eggs filled with trinkets and candy have been prepared and will be scattered around the lawn at the museum on Front Street.

“We typically get about 300 kids for the egg hunt and activities,” Hoff said. “It takes a few minutes for the volunteers to place the eggs, but the kids line up at the perimeter and when we say go, the eggs are gone in seconds.”

Activities inside the River Museum will be river-related and include everything from painting a plaster fish to exploring a stream table. The Friends of the Museums have been instrumental in helping to organize the opening day festivities, according to Hoff.

The free egg hunt kicks off the event and then admission to both museums for Saturday only is $5 for adults and $2 for children.

Ongoing exhibits at the Ohio River Museum include one focusing on Captain Cumberland Posey, a black man from Belpre who went on to become a Pittsburgh success story, and a collection of items from the Ritts family and their connection to Crucible Steel and the W.P. Snyder Jr.

The Snyder will not be available for tours at this event because it was sent off for repairs.

“We are still hoping it will be back in May but it may be later because, like everyone else, the work has been impacted by the weather this winter,” said Hoff.

Instead, folks will have a chance to tour the Schoonover Shanty Boat and look at a new exhibit of photographs.

“This will be the formal debut for the shanty boat,” said Bill Reynolds, a historian at the museum. “And we have a display that will be ready Saturday on Thorton Barrette.”

The museum acquired a handful of original 8×10 cabinet cards – a style of old sepia-toned photo – from the local family of Captain Lindsey Miller.

“Barrette was very well-known and worked mostly near Russell, Kentucky,” Reynolds explained. “He really was one of the premiere steamboat photographers from the 1880s to 1910.”