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There are riverboats galore at the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival

Sternwheelers on the Ohio River
Sternwheelers on the Ohio River

If you've always been intrigued by the riverboat era, here's your chance to see more than 30 majestic sternwheelers all in one place, docked at the Ohio River Levee in Marietta, Ohio. Just plan a weekend trip to the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival being held on Friday, September 5, Saturday, September 6 and Sunday, September 7.

Ohio River Sternwheel Festival Celebrating its 38th year, the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival will kick off on Friday evening at 6 p.m. with an opening ceremony and an evening of live music and pageants.

One of the highlight attractions of the Festival is the James E. Sands' Memorial Races being held on Sunday at 1 p.m. Sit along the riverbank and watch and cheer as the sternwheelers race toward glory at the finish line.

Historical Side Note: What exactly is a sternwheeler? I'm glad you asked. A sternwheeler is a boat with a single paddlewheel (built on a steel frame with an outer edge that is fitted with numerous paddle blades) on the stern. Paddleboats that have paddle wheels on the sides are called sidewheelers. Riverboats are propelled by one or more paddle wheels which are driven by an engine.

The Ohio River Sternwheel Fest will offer a variety of activities for children in addition to a Car Show (Sunday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.), a 5K run, a photo contest and a spectacular fireworks display (choreographed to music) on Saturday, September 6 at 9:30 p.m. The fireworks will be set off from barges in the Ohio River.

There will lots of free musical entertainment throughout the Festival including a performance by the featured band - "Stayin' Alive -- One Night of the Bee Gees".

Food for purchase will be aplenty with vendors along Front and Greene Streets.

Hours for the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival are 6 p.m. - 11 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. - 11 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free. Parking in private lots will cost $5 - $10.

For those visitors who would like to stay overnight in Marietta, check out The Lafayette Hotel located at 101 Front St. (740-373-5522 -- or the Magnuson Hotel By the River located at 279 Muskingum Dr. (740 374-7211 -- for availability and pricing.

For more information about the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival call 800-288-2577 or get online at

The Festival will take place at the Ohio River Levee at Front and Green Streets in Marietta, Ohio. Marietta is 163 miles from Cleveland and it is approximately a 2.5 hour drive.

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