Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival opens

Photo by Peyton Neely Families take off during the Family Fun Ride Friday during the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival in Marietta.

MARIETTA — For a seventh year the festival promoting a healthy lifestyle, the miles of local outdoor wonder and a cooling off with local libations kicked off an extended weekend in Marietta.

“We came in Thursday and plan to stay through Sunday, said Ken Stanchin, 51, of Zanesville.

“We’ve come down for Sternwheel before but heard through a friend of a friend that this was going on,” added Ken’s wife Sarah, 55. “This is more relaxed and we love to paddle, ride and for us adults, beer.”

The Stanchins brought their 15-year-old daughter Layne and her boyfriend Matt Fitch for the the active weekend and were grateful that the summer heat wasn’t too high.

“I like the ice cream though,” added Layne, speaking of a treat they picked up from the harbor.

The family plans to get out on the water this weekend and also enjoy local pizza, barbecue and of course the third course of the festival: ale.

“This is more relaxed and our style,” said Ken. “I want to kayak on the Ohio River and we loved the historic tour of the town and biked to Boathouse BBQ too so we know where to put in to the water tomorrow.”

The family-friendly nature is also what has drawn the Hodge family back each year to the festival.

“We already enjoy being outside and riding and paddling,” said Jill Hodge, 33, of Devola. “But I love that there’s never been a time in Marietta where I’ve ever felt uncomfortable with a young child at any event.”

Jude Hodge, 5, said his favorite challenge of the weekend is the kid’s course and he made sure to wear his helmet most of the time while on his bike.

“But I was trying without my helmet, too,” he said before the family went off to find some protein after miles of riding.

“I’ve noticed many more today than on Fridays in years before,’ said the festival director Eric Dowler. “But historically Saturday and Sunday that almost triples.”

Friday 48 participated in the gnome hike, 11 in the family fun ride, 22 in the downtown tour, 20 on the mountain biking loops, 30 in road biking, 21 in the historic town tour 21 in the adventure paddle at Veto Lake and nine in the morning yoga class.

“People have come in from Akron, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Columbus, and we’re even getting bigger company sponsors wanting to join up,” said Dowler. “It’s definitely the same niche of people but the draw for out-of-towners is growing and it’s still staying true to our mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle and the awesome area we have here everyday.”

Dowler said in the years to come he hopes to grow the festival to a full week-long event, but for now is excited to see who wins the many raffle prizes this weekend including a mountain bike, kayak or SUV tent.

For more information about the festival visit the headquarters on the Armory lawn at 241 Front St., Marietta.


If You Go


* 8 a.m.: Yoga at Armory Lawn

* 8:30 a.m.: Hike at Broughton’s Nature and Wildlife Education Area – three miles

* 9-10 a.m.: Registration for free group rides and to pick up information for the day’s events

* 9 a.m.: Lowell to Marietta group Lock-thru Paddle

* 9-3 p.m.: Specialized Bicycles Demo

* 10 a.m.: Group Rides Depart from Armory Lawn

* Anytime Paddler’s Riddle Run

* Anytime Bike Scavenger Hunt

* 11-2 p.m.: HALA Gear SUP Demo

* Noon-3 p.m.: Bike Rodeo, Climbing Wall and Strider Adventure Zone on the Armory Lawn

* 1-3 p.m.: 5 Point Adventure Film Fest Showing 1 at Peoples Bank Theatre on Putnam Street

* 2 p.m.: Family Fun Ride

* 3-4 p.m.: RTA Beer Mini-Fest Platinum VIP Hour at the Marietta Brewing Company (167 Front St.)

* 4-6 p.m.: 5 Point Adventure Film Fest Showing 2 at Peoples Bank Theatre on Putnam Street

* 4-7 p.m.: RTA Beer Mini-Fest General Admissions at the Marietta Brewing Company (167 Front St.)

* 7 p.m.: Bike Parade.

* 7:30 p.m.: Tortoise & Hare World Championships

* 7:30-10:30 p.m.: Matt & the Phat Man at Boathouse BBQ

* 8 p.m.: Prize Drawings at Armory Lawn

* 9-11 p.m.: Bluerock Country at Gator’s Easy Wind Pub

* 9 p.m.: Music for the Cause 2 ’80s Rock at The Adelphia Music Hall

* 10 p.m.: The Wayfarers at the Marietta Brewing Company


* 7 a.m.: Rider Sign Ups begin at Armory Lawn for Big Road Ride

* 8 a.m.: Yoga at Armory Lawn

* 8 a.m.: BIG Road Ride: 68 miles (self-supported)

* 8:30 a.m.: Hike at Broughton’s Nature and Wildlife Education Area – two miles

* 9 a.m.: Festival HQ opens on the Armory Lawn (200 block of Front Street)

* 9 a.m.: Refine Your Stroke — lessons on how to refine your paddling stroke

* 10 a.m.: Group Rides Depart from Armory Lawn (200 block Front Street)

* 10 a.m.: Group Trail Run