Belpre in final stages of preparing for big event

BELPRE – With a month left before the opening ceremonies, the 81st annual Belpre Homecoming Committee is in the final push of organizing the event.

“We are finishing up things and encouraging every one to turn in parade, pageant, crafter and vendor applications,” said Karen Waller, executive director of the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce.

Belpre Civitan Park on Blennerhassett Avenue along the Ohio River will hold the longtime event from Aug. 1 through 3 with a number of activities. Admission to the festival is free.

The application deadline for participation in all pageants is July 3. The Belpre Homecoming Pageants include Little Miss and Little Mister for ages 5 to 8 years old, Junior Miss for ages 9 to 12 years old, Miss Teen for ages 13 to 16 years old and Miss Belpre for ages 17 to 20 years old.

The fees to participate per child in the Little pageants is $30, Junior Miss is $40 and $60 for Miss Teen and Miss Belpre.

Pageants will be held each day of the festival at the gazebo bandstand.

The annual Belpre Mile Run/Walk is open to anyone ages 12 and up with seven integrated age categories for prizes.

The race will begin at 9:40 a.m. Aug. 3, at Howe’s Grove Park on Washington Boulevard and finish at Belpre Saving Bank, 605 Washington Blvd.

Participants for the Homecoming Parade are also being sought. Any groups who would like to walk or have a decorated float are encouraged to join the annual parade, which co-sponsored by the Belpre Lions Club.

“There is no theme with this year’s homecoming or the parade, so people can let their imaginations run wild with decorations,” Waller said.

For this first time, the homecoming committee has added a fundraiser to the festival events.

“The committee determined the need for a fundraiser to be able to help pay for homecoming in the future and that is where the Duck Pluck came in,” said Waller.

The fundraiser will offer cash prizes to winners whose ducks are “plucked” from the city swimming pool the Saturday of the festival.

Tickets are $5 with the prizes totaling $1,000.

Sponsored exclusively by Belpre Savings Bank, tickets are available at Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce office and local ticket outlets. Proceeds go to support homecoming events.

“The Duck Pluck gives the area residents a way to get involved and contribute to the expenses of homecoming,” Waller said. “Any event like this is a large undertaking and everything has a cost, which makes it more and more difficult to keep free.”

As for entertainment, the stage will be filled all three nights with up-and-coming and local acts.

The headlining act for Friday at 8:30 p.m. will be country recording artist Joel Crouse, who is a songwriter and has opened for established artists Rodney Adkins, Sara Evans, the Goo Goo Dolls, Toby Keith and Darius Rucker. He has performed with The Band Perry this year and will open for Taylor Swift’s Red Tour this summer.

Opening for Crouse at 7:30 p.m. will be Nashville singer/songwriter Brent Cobb, who has written songs for Luke Bryan, David Nail, Kellie Pickler and The Eli Young Band.

For the second year, Thursday night will be Youth and Family Night with Point Pleasant, W.Va., native Chase Likens performing at 8:30 p.m. Likens was a top 24 finalist on the 2012 season of American Idol and has opened for Lady Antebellum, Bucky Covington and Adam D. Tucker.

The Saturday entertainment will include local acts Jinxed at 8 p.m. with Titus Canbe at 9:30 p.m.

As always, this year’s homecoming will also feature carnival rides, inflatables and other entertainment.

Applications for all participating events are available at the chamber office at 713 Park Drive. For questions about homecoming events, contact the chamber at (740) 423-8934.