Updated Tue, Aug 7, 2012 10:22 am
Live music fans, outdoor recreation types and craft beer aficionados are expected to gather in Marietta this weekend for the second annual Rivers, Trails, and Ales festival.
The non-profit festival spans the entire weekend, from Thursday, Aug. 9 through Sunday, Aug. 12, celebrating the wealth of outdoor-adventures Marietta has to offer, as well as local music and downtown restaurants and shops.
Long-recognized within the region as a hot-spot for outdoor recreation, Marietta has recently been attracting national attention through publications such as the New York Times and National Geographic, which listed the river community on "America’s 100 Best Adventure Towns" and awarded it well the title of "#1 Destination for Outdoor Adventure in Ohio."
Hallie Taylor, along with Ryan Smith and James Maddox, is a co-founder of the festival, which was created to showcase the local community and outdoor recreation, as well as the Mid-Ohio Valley's terrain.
"Ryan thought up the festival idea a few years back. We basically put it in the city event calendar first and then hustled to try to figure out how to make it happen," said Taylor.
Getting the fest off the ground was a daunting task, since the trio had no experience and no money.
"It was a little like jumping off a cliff," she admitted. "But each of us have the experience in living in other towns and cities and we could see the possibility of creating something new and great for our town. The result was more successful than we could have imagined."
Taylor said attendees usually stop into the festival headquarters at Armory Lawn for information, then head out on a bike ride or paddling excursion before returning in the evening for live music or an Ohio craft beer at one of the participating restaurants.
"We have five Ohio breweries represented at the festival this year: The Marietta Brewing Company, Weasel Boy Brewing, Elevator Brewing Company, Buckeye Brewing Company and Great Lakes. The 'Ales' portion of the festival is definitely a hit."
A number of musical acts will also be performing each night at the RTA festival stage and at various downtown locations. The performers include local acoustic duo Hayfield & Crow, gypsy-punk ensemble Quiet!, country-rock group South of the River Band, area favorites Tracy Ellen and Sean Johnson, and rock bands Appalachian Criminal, Black Bourbon Devils, Sacra Via and The Carlsons. Marietta’s own fire-breathing troupe, Burning Dawn, will also be featured.
Other notable events include dragon boat paddling lessons, kayak and canoe races, The Tortoise and the Hare World Championship, a group paddling trip from Lowell to Marietta and the Mighty Muskingum Raft Race.
The raft race, made up of river-worthy and not-so river-worthy homemade vessels, follows a two-mile stretch of the Muskingum River with hundreds of onlookers cheering on the crews. The rafts have included toilets, sternwheel-laden crafts and whatever else participants were able to cobble together. However, some barely manage to make it into the water before capsizing.
"We refer to these crafts as 'buoyantly challenged,' and we usually have a few that succumb to that fate," said Taylor.