Raft regatta race

The weather was near perfect for the third annual Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival, which brought hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts to Marietta this weekend.

“In general we had a larger turnout this year-there were noticeably more people here for the festival-and several from out of town,” said Ryan Smith one of the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival organizers.

He said group bike rides were well-attended over the weekend, but many people just enjoyed casual rides, exploring the Pioneer City.

“The festival was sanctioned by Main Street Marietta, so they’ll receive some of the proceeds, and some of those funds will go into a special Marietta Trails Maintenance Fund account I’ve set up with the Marietta Community Foundation to help support local biking and hiking trails,” Smith said. “And a small portion of the proceeds will be set aside so we can have another event next year.”

He said the exact amount raised over the weekend would not be known for several days, but the local economy also got a boost from the festival.

“Local hotels had more business, and I talked to the owners of the Marietta Brewing Company and The Galley, and both establishments were busy all weekend,” Smith added.

The festival wrapped up Sunday with a canoe-kayak turnaround race and the fifth annual Mighty Muskingum River Raft Regatta from the Indian Acres Park boat ramp to the Harmar Railroad Bridge.

The river races are hosted by the Friends of the Lower Muskingum watershed group and sponsored by several local businesses and organizations, according to Jesse Daubert, watershed coordinator with Friends of the Lower Muskingum.

“We had 29 rafts entered this year-that’s eight more than last year,” he said. “The point of the race is to promote use of the Muskingum River. In the ’70s and ’80s the raft race was sponsored by the Marietta Jaycees and was such a popular event we decided to bring it back five years ago as an outreach.”

Daubert said the river race fits right within the Friends of the Lower Muskingum’s primary mission of educating people about the watershed and encouraging them to enjoy it.

“And that’s why we’ve also partnered with the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival this year,” he said. “They also want to get people out on the rivers.”

Rafts of all kinds are entered in the race, including one dubbed “The River Queen,” piloted by Marci Marple, Laura Flowers, Brittany Lee, Lindsey Flowers, and Rachel Rutherford, all of Marietta.

“They made it from five inner tubes and an exercise ball in the middle, lashed together with gold duct tape,” said Carolyn Magers who helped supervise the vessel’s construction.

She said the raft race brings back memories of the original Jaycees event.

“I’m glad someone is carrying on that tradition,” Magers said.

Dave Rudie of Marietta “captained” the winning raft, “Smurf-It,” an elongated catamaran-type craft made of several blue barrels balanced by two PVC pipe pontoons on either side.

“We went with pure manpower from five able-bodied seamen, and a well put-together raft,” Rudie said. “But we broke the rudder off at the beginning of the race because it was just getting too confusing to operate.”

Helping Rudie man the raft were Aaron Reynolds, David Roach, Donny Beaumier, and Sam Dahler. The vessel’s sponsor was Beaumier’s Before and After Remodeling business.

“It’s our first year in the race, but we had a lot of fun-this is really a great event,” Rudie said.