Riverfront fun ahead

While the Washington County Fair is this weekend, right around the river bend is the time for sternwheelers of all sizes to line the banks of the Ohio and people to crowd the streets of Marietta.

The 39th annual Ohio River Sternwheel Festival will be Sept. 5-7 along the levee downtown.

Director General Carol Vroom said those attending can expect the same tried and true favorites at this year’s festival, along with some new musical acts.

“We have some new entertainment this year,” she said. “Our headliner Friday night (Sept. 5) is the Swon Brothers. They’re country. They were on (Season Four of) ‘The Voice’ (where) they came in third.”

Some local bands include Bruce Haas and Mike Starkey, and Plan B.

Vroom said the entertainment for Sept. 6 will be the return of Stayin’ Alive, the Bee Gees tribute band, while Sunday will have Rick K and the Allnighters.

“They’re a rock n’ roll show,” she said. “There’s a lot of crowd involvement. A couple years ago he jumped off the barge. It’s a fun band.”

Sept. 7 will also see the return of Chargers, Mustangs, Chevy trucks and every other imaginable car to line parking lots and streets around town for the Rollin’ Oldies Car Show.

Butch Wiseman, Sternwheel Committee member, said last year there was a huge number of cars.

“Last year there were over 400,” said Wiseman. “I think that’s going to be a consistent number.”

He said there’s one thing that will affect turnout.

“If it’s pouring down rain on Sunday it’ll be a lot less,” he said. “If it’s a nice day (with sunshine) it could be 500. It is growing.”

“A lot of thanks needs to go to the city for letting us have certain streets available to park that many cars,” he said.

Car owners wanting to show their beauties, whether they are sports cars, imports, rat rods or American muscle, are welcome to show up in the morning at Third and Butler streets.

There is a small entrance fee but no pre-registration is required.

During the show, a lucky veteran will also be receiving a car from Operation Give a Veteran a Car.

Wiseman added that no sternwheelers are yet lining the river, but that will change before the festival begins.

“They’ll start coming down as early as Saturday morning,” he said. “Saturday through Monday to Tuesday, you’ll see a big amount.”

Already two houseboats have found their spots along the shore. Dan and Luann Carskadden, of Zanesville, made the trek down the Muskingum River nearly a week ago.

“We’ve been coming down every year since 1990,” said Dan.

When asked why they made the trek so early, Dan said the answer is simple.

“It’s so we can get these spots because of the stage and the fireworks,” he said.

Family and friends usually come down to kick back on the boat, with a few friends coming from Canada this year.

“Our whole family comes down,” Dan said. “With kids and grandkids, there’s 12 of us. When friends come down it’s 50 or 60.”

Luann said she usually stays on the boat.

“We look forward to (the festival) every year,” she said. “We plan everything else around (it) so we have time (to enjoy ourselves). I’m a people watcher, so I like just sitting…I’m pretty content to not get off the boat.”

Vroom said there will be inflatables and children’s entertainment on Sept. 6, and the part almost everyone looks forward to: the fireworks.

“(What we’re planning) will be a surprise,” said Vroom. “They will be spectacular. They won’t be off the bridge; that’s every five years (so next year’s the year), but they’ll still be really good.”