Something fishy is happening downtown Marietta this weekend that you won't want to miss.
Rumor has it that if you love catfish and love Marietta, this is the weekend you've been waiting for.
Two major events are rolled into a Friday, Saturday and even Sunday spectacular this weekend when the final summer downtown Marietta Merchants & Artists Walk happens Friday evening, followed by the 2009 Marietta Catfish Festival Saturday and Sunday - also downtown.
East Muskingum Park is the setting for the second-annual catfish caper beginning at noon Saturday to 9 p.m.
"What we have is two major events," said Chuck Swaney, coordinator of the Catfish Festival for Restore Marietta. "The Merchant & Artists Walk kicks off the weekend Friday (6 to 9 p.m. downtown) and we're involved in that because our catfish sculptures are displayed in shops downtown."
It all makes for a full and "exciting" weekend package, he said.
If you go
What: Marietta Merchants & Artists A Walking Tour.
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.
Where: Downtown Marietta.
Who: Free and open to the community.
For more information: 373-5178.
If you go
What: Second Annual Marietta Catfish Festival.
When: Begins Friday evening with Catfish Sculptures exhibit downtown shops, continues noon to 9 p.m. Saturday; 4 p.m. Bobber Drop Raffle; 5 p.m. Catfish tournament Awards Presentation; 8:30 p.m. Catfish Auction Winners; 9:30 p.m. Lighted Boat Parade on the Muskingum River, presented by the Marietta Boat Club.
Entertainment from 5 to 9 p.m. in the park.
Sunday: 2 to 4 p.m. Mighty Muskingum River Raft Race (first annual). Registration for participants 1 to 2 p.m.
Where: East Muskingum Park, the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, and downtown Marietta.
Who: Free and open to the community.
For more information: (740) 215-4663 Chuck Swaney, coordinator for Restore Marietta.
For Dave Schramm, owner of the Workingman's Store, 113 Putnam St., Merchant & Artist's Walking Tours in the 2009 summer season have been extremely successful.
"Attendance this summer has been spectacular," Schramm said. "The event has certainly gained momentum."
Schramm, who has participated in the summer event since it first began, is an avid and enthusiastic proponent.
"It's importance in bringing attention to downtown Marietta is very important," he said.
Typically 35 to 40 downtown merchants participate in the event. Each merchant will usually be host to a local artist.
At Top Drawer Furniture & Design Studio, 200 Front St., owner Sarah Dye will once again offer shoppers a root beer float (root beer from the Marietta Brewing Company) and a special artist, Jena Lane Blair.
"We have a new line of furniture to show people this time, 'Younger,' which is American made and nicely priced," Dye said. "It has a fresh, 'today' look."
For Dye, the event Friday offers her an opportunity to talk with old friends and new.
"It's just a great time for people to look at the stores downtown," she said. "They don't always buy, but greeting people is important too and often, they return to shop."
Jena Lane Blair, an artist of Marietta, fashions jewelry from glass beads that she makes from a "lampwork" or "torchwork" process.
Blair also teaches classes at Fenton Art Glass in Williamstown in the process.
"People are very interested in watching the demonstration of how the beads are made," Blair said. "I have learned that the actual beadmaking is 30,000 years old. Glass beads made in this way have been found in Egyptian tombs."
She will be one of the artists actually demonstrating her art work during Friday night's event.
Downtown visitors will have an opportunity to decide which catfish sculpture they might want to bid on as they stroll the streets during the merchant's party.
From noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, painted catfish sculptures will be on display in East Muskingum Park and event visitors have a chance to win one in the silent auction. Auction winners will be announced at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
Also Saturday, there will be fried catfish for festival goers in East Muskingum Park, offered by Cowboy Dan Warren's Concessions. If you have never tasted farm-raised catfish, you are in for a treat, Swaney said.
While all the food, entertainment, and games are going on in the park, serious fishermen will be participating in the Catfish Tournament. It begins with registration with Larry Mitchell, Muskingum and Ohio League of Ohio Sportsmen at Civitan Park or Indian Acres.
"A children's fishing derby that we hoped would take place at Buckeye Park will, unfortunately, not happen Saturday morning," Swaney said. "It was a victim of budget cutbacks."
Catfish tournament weigh-in and release at the Marietta Boat Ramp is at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Entertainment Saturday in the park includes High Schools That Rock (5 p.m.), Little Mill Creek Boys (5:30 p.m.), Richards Brothers Bluegrass Band (6:45 p.m.) and South of the River (8 p.m.).
There is a lighted boat parade, sponsored by the Marietta Boat Club, from the club on the Muskingum River to the confluence of the Ohio River and back, at dusk Saturday (about 9:15 p.m.).
Sunday the catfish festival takes on a new dimension with introduction of the Mighty Muskingum River Raft Race, slipping off the docks at Marietta College boat ramp at 2 p.m., headed down river - or not.