Riverfest opens at Point Park on Friday

One of several downtown events

Sternwheelers are docked at Point Park this week in preparation for the first Riverfest on Friday and Saturday, one of several activities taking place this weekend in downtown Parkersburg. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

Sternwheelers are docked at Point Park this week in preparation for the first Riverfest on Friday and Saturday, one of several activities taking place this weekend in downtown Parkersburg. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

PARKERSBURG — Nearly a dozen privately owned sternwheelers will be docked at Point Park this weekend for the first Riverfest.

It will be the first time in about 20 years a group of sternwheelers has been docked together at Point Park, Riverfest organizers said.

The sternwheeler event, which will also include vendors and live entertainment, is just one of several activities centered in downtown Parkersburg on Friday and Saturday.

Riverfest will run from 6-11 p.m. Friday and 4-11 p.m. Saturday at the Point Park Amphitheater and along the riverside at the Point. Friday’s entertainment will include John Kunze, Kevin Hamric, Appalachian Hustle, Poobah and Hit and Run. Saturday will begin with a river history and tales program by historian Mark Heslep, followed by music from Stephanie Stacy and Co., Insured Sound, Band of Brothers and Mixx Band.

Admission will be free and the event is family friendly, said Carrie Adams, vice president of Manufactured Dreams, which is helping to organize Riverfest.

Scot Heckert, the event’s organizer, said the idea for Riverfest grew out of a desire to take advantage of some of the assets in the local area, especially Point Park and the extensive renovations it underwent several years ago.

“We wanted to bring the boats back to Parkersburg; it’s been 20 years since they’ve been here. With the wonderful waterfront that they’ve built, it seemed like a perfect fit,” Heckert said.

One of the goals is to become another stop on the circuit of festivals and events many of the sternwheelers make, including Point Pleasant, Marietta, Wheeling and Pomeroy.

Adams said Manufactured Dreams, a nonprofit dedicated to enriching the lives of children in the area through access to the arts and technology, will be accepting donations to help with its programs.

“While things may be smaller this year, we plan to grow every year with more boats and more vendors and more activities,” Adams said of Riverfest.

Adams and Heckert said they have received a lot of support and help from downtown businesses and organizations, including the Point Park Marketplace, Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city of Parkersburg.

This weekend is also playing host to other events in downtown Parkersburg, which the Riverfest organizers believe will help everyone involved by providing a wide range of attractions and interests to draw people in.

The other events are the Parkersburg Paddlefest on Friday and Saturday, organized by the Greater Parkersburg CVB; the Downtown Throwdown BBQ and Brewfest on Saturday, organized by Downtown PKB, and Youth Fest 2017 on Friday and Saturday at the corner of Second and Market streets, organized by the Parkersburg Youth Advisory Committee.

The Paddlefest activities will include a glow paddle at 8 p.m. Friday, with the main paddle event taking place from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday when the Ohio River will be closed to commercial traffic between Point Park and Blennerhassett Island. On Sunday, the Paddlefest activities will move to North Bend State Park.

The Downtown Throwdown will be 6-10 p.m. Saturday at Bicentennial Park next to the Blennerhassett Hotel. It will feature craft beers and barbecue from a variety of vendors, along with live entertainment.

Youth Fest will feature family games and activities beginning at 7 p.m. Friday and at noon Saturday, including giant crab soccer, twister, capture the flag and tug of war.

“There’s no reason — in Wood County and the city of Parkersburg — for anybody to say there’s nothing to do this weekend,” Heckert said.

“With all of the different events, it provides an opportunity for everybody to do something,” Adams said.

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