BELPRE - The 81st annual Belpre Homecoming will fill Civitan Park with fun and festivities beginning Thursday evening and continue through Saturday.
"Things are coming along," said Karen Waller, executive director of the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce. "There are a lot of little events going on that we hope people come out for."
This year's festival in Civitan Park, located on Blennerhassett Avenue along the Ohio River, will include free admission and entertainment as well as a variety of foods, games and rides.
On Thursday, those events include the Belpre Homecoming Youth Olympics, which, in its first year, is a set of challenges for homecoming participants to do to win prizes. The olympic games are part of the Youth and Family Night, which is in its second year.
"The Belpre Youth Chamber has worked very hard to organize the olympics to include the kids of Belpre in homecoming," Waller said.
To also include the kids, Belpre City Schools District Superintendent Tony Dunn will be the first person in the dilly dunker on Thursday, said Dave Smith with the Belpre Masonic Lodge.
81st annual Belpre Homecoming schedule:
* 6 p.m.: Carnival Rides/Games and "Youth Night"; Registration for Belpre Homecoming Olympics, sponsored by Belpre Youth Chamber of Commerce
* 6:30 p.m.: Opening Ceremonies with Lighting of the Torch
* 7 p.m.: Little Miss/Mister Pageant at the gazebo
* 8:30 p.m.: Chase Likens on the Suddenlink Main Stage
* 5 p.m.: Cruise-In in Civitan Park
* 6 p.m.: Carnival Rides/Games; Junior Miss Belpre Pageant at the gazebo
* 7:30 p.m.: Brent Cobb on the Suddenlink Main Stage
* 8:30 p.m.: Joel Crouse on the Suddenlink Main Stage
* 7 a.m.: Buddy Bass fishing tournament at the Belpre Boat Ramp
* 9 a.m.: Kids Fishing Derby at the Civitan Park Pond
* 9:40 a.m.: Belpre Mile Run and Walk beginning at Howes Grove Park
* 10 a.m.: 81st Belpre Homecoming Parade on Washington Boulevard
* Noon-4 p.m.: Carnival Rides/Games
* 6 p.m.: Miss Teen and Belpre Pageants; Carnival Rides/Games
* 8 p.m.: Jinxd on the Suddenlink Main Stage
* 9 p.m.: Duck Pluck Winners drawn at Belpre Municipal Pool
* 9:30 p.m.: Titus Canbe on the Suddenlink Main Stage
"He's being a great sport," said Smith. "He's the opening act to all of the festivities."
Saturday morning will see the annual Kids Fishing Derby begin at 7 a.m. at the pond in the park.
"The pond is being stocked and we hope to have a lot of kids fishing," Waller said.
For the first time this year, Belpre Homecoming officials will hold a fundraiser at the Belpre City Pool, next to the park, at 9 p.m. Saturday, the Duck Pluck.
"We're believing most people are waiting to buy their tickets at the homecoming," Waller said.
Duck Pluck tickets are still available with the purchase bringing a chance to win the $500 cash first prize. The fundraiser will offer cash prizes to winners whose ducks are "plucked" from the city swimming pool on Saturday.
Tickets are $5 with the prizes totaling $1,000. Sponsored exclusively by Belpre Savings Bank, tickets are available at the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce office and local ticket outlets. Proceeds go to support homecoming events.
For more than eight decades, the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce has organized the Homecoming as a way to gather the community.
"The valley needs our three festivals," Waller said, referring to the Belpre and Parkersburg homecoming festivals as well as Marietta's Ohio River Sternwheel Festival. "They are a great way to get everyone outside and together."
As always, this year's Homecoming will also feature carnival rides, inflatables and other entertainment.
For questions about homecoming events, contact the chamber at (740) 423-8934.