Riverfront Roar ready to make waves in July

MARIETTA – Planners for the Marietta Riverfront Roar hope this year is just as fun and exciting as in the past.

This is the 19th year for the event, which brings live entertainment, fireworks and tunnel boat races to the Ohio River the weekend of July 12-14.

“It’s my favorite thing,” Carmen Taylor, event chairwoman for the last four years, said. “I was driving to Marietta the other day and I heard our commercial on the radio and got goose bumps. It’s stressful the couple of weeks before but it’s all worth it once you get there.”

She said approximately 40,000 to 50,000 people visit Marietta for the races every year, but this year they hope to get a better estimate.

“A guy will have a drone this year and we will better be able to gauge (the number of people) once we get up in the sky,” Taylor said. “There are people on both the Ohio and West Virginia side watching the races.”

There will be three sets of races this year: ProTunnel 1, ProTunnel 2 and ProSport. The PT1 Series, which was formerly Formula Two, includes 200 horsepower boats, which reach top speeds of 110 miles per hour and can take 5G turns on a circle course, according to Powerboat Nationals.

The PT2 Series, which was Formula Four, includes 70 horsepower boats, which can reach a top speed of 70 miles per hour. The ProSport Series includes the jet skis, said Dan Bunting, chairman of the Powerboat Nationals.

According to Bunting, there are scheduled to be approximately 10 racers in the PT1 Series, 14 racers in the PT2 Series and six ProSport racers.

Lee Daniel, of Evans, Ga., who races with the PT1 Series, is excited to come back to Marietta and makes it a family event every year.

“I’ve probably been coming ever since they started doing (the event),” Daniel said. “We love to come to Marietta. My parents love to stay downtown at the Lafayette. We bring our family and we come every year.”

Daniel, who has won the race several times, is also excited about racing on the Ohio River.

“The race is excellent. The race course and the water is great,” he said. “All the people around are great. All the functions they have at night on the streets. We love the race as a whole.”

The City of Marietta is a favorite for PT2 racers like Steve Merleau of Bellevue, Mich.

“Marietta is an awesome site. It’s by far one of the best races we go to,” he said. “You guys have some of the most engaging spectators I’ve seen. Every year, everyone remembers you. There are ‘super fans’ that don’t forget you and want to come talk to you.”

He noted the only downside to the race is putting the boat in the water on the ramp, but the river is great race water.

Between his brother’s racing and his own, Merleau has been to Marietta for five or six years in total, although he’s never won here.

“I came, I believe, three years now,” Merleau said. “My brother raced and won it a few times. Last year I was racing and my boat fell apart. I think the same thing happened the year before. I haven’t had much luck here.”

There will be a lot for visitors to downtown Marietta that weekend, including different inflatables for the kids and new musical entertainment. The inflatables will be located on Greene Street between Second and Third streets, Taylor said.

The new musical acts will be Aftershock, OYO and the Red Idle Rejects. Aftershock plays classic rock, Red Idle Rejects play alternative country and Americana, while OYO plays American folk, bluegrass, old school country and rock, Taylor added.

Acts returning to the Roar this year are Jinxd, which plays a variety of genres of music; The Bash, which plays rock; and The Faculty, which is a classic rock and country band.

The entertainment will play on a stage in the parking lot by the Lafayette Hotel.

“We fence the parking lot off and at one end is the stage,” Taylor said. “At the other end, we have a trailer come in from Classic Brand and sell beer.”

She said anyone can enter the fenced area, but to purchase alcohol, you have to show ID and get a wristband.

“We police it very well and will cut you off if we think you need to be cut off,” she noted.

A big draw on Saturday will be the fireworks, and on Sunday will be the Rollin’ Oldies Car Club show near the Armory. Taylor said the car show was packed to capacity with cars last year and from the looks of it, they will be at capacity again this year.

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Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com

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Schedule

Friday, July 12

* 5 p.m.: Powerboats on display on Front Street, Greene Street and Second Street

* 6-8 p.m.: OYO on entertainment and beer garden stage at corner of Front Street and Greene Street in riverside parking lot.

* 8-10 p.m.: Jinxd on stage

* 10 p.m. to midnight: The Bash on stage

* JP Chandler to play in-between bands on stage

Saturday, July 13

* 9 a.m.: Corporate displays open

* 10 a.m.: Powerboats on the Ohio River for testing

* 11 a.m.: Beer garden opens

* Noon: Opening ceremonies at the Ohio River Levee

* 1 p.m.: Heat races begin

* 5 p.m.: Heat races conclude

* 6-8 p.m.: Red Idle Rejects on stage

* 8-9:30 p.m.: The Faculty on stage

* 9:30-9:50 p.m.: Fireworks show presented by Marietta College

* 10 p.m. to midnight: Aftershock on stage

* JP Chandler will play in-between bands

Sunday, July 14

* 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Rollin’ Oldies Car Club Show near the Armory

* 11 a.m.: Beer garden opens

* Noon: Race day opening ceremonies

* 1-4 p.m.: Final races

* 5 p.m.: Trophies awarded

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