Riverfront Roar draws thousands

MARIETTA – Thousands Saturday gathered on the banks of the Ohio River to enjoy the Riverfront Roar.

People brought their chairs and blankets, crowding to see the action on the river below. Dozens of boats crowded along the raceway, outlined by orange buoys in the river. As each of the boats entered the water, crowds cheered and waited for the coming race.

Kenny George of Parkersburg enjoyed the races from the beer garden beside the Lafayette Hotel.

“I thought today was fabulous,” George said. “I was really impressed with the horsepower and the sound of the engines. It was remarkable.”

In the evening, crowds gathered to enjoy music from performers Downshift 50, Taylor Sams, Mirror Mirror, Mike Starkey and Bruce Hass, Magic Mama Band and Jinx’d. Performances lasted through midnight.

The Lafayette was used as a security staging area, said Lafayette Hotel manager Shelia Rhodes. The hotel offered its lower floor for security for the event and sponsored a racing boat, Rhodes said.

Rooms at the Lafayette Hotel were sold out this year and many guests were expected to reserve their rooms for next year’s event, Rhodes said.

Judith Kessel from Charleston was among the guests at the Lafayette for the Riverfront Roar.

“We always come in for the Roar. People here are friendly and there is lots to do,” Kessel said. “I enjoy the history of the area and like shopping at the Grand Central Mall because it is all on one level.”

Riverfront Roar will conclude today with powerboats on the river at 10 a.m., the Pioneer Corvette Club Car Show at 11 a.m., opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m., the final round of races beginning at noon and trophies awarded at 4:30 p.m.

Main festivities and free concerts take place between the Lafayette Hotel and the river nearby.West Ohio, Green and Front streets are closed for several blocks in both directions for food trucks and street vendors.

Bounce castles Saturday were set up on Green Street for children to play in, and several children climbed into the fountain in front of the Lafayette Hotel to cool off from the summer heat.

The Pepsi Pavilion, set up alongside the Lafayette Hotel, provided free entertainment and was the site of the beer garden throughout the event.

Saturday began with the Run for the Roar 5K walk-run at 8 a.m., and boats began their test laps at 10 a.m.

Races lasted from noon until 5 p.m., with the last race delayed for a time due to choppy river conditions. People cheered from the Ohio and West Virginia sides of the river during the final race of the day.