This year’s 7th Annual Rivers, Trails, and Ales Festival doesn’t appear in Marietta overnight! It takes the steadfast planning, coordination, and tireless dedication of RTA Leadership, back by over 50 volunteers, who pave the way for this multi-day festival’s success.
At the top of it all is Festival Director Eric Dowler. By day, his full-time commitments give him the title of Project Manager with Monster Government Solutions. A first-time father to one-year old Lizzie Dowler, joined in parenting by wife Megan Dowler, owner of Blossom Yoga in downtown Marietta, Eric’s leadership is not met without resistance from daily scheduling, balancing all of life’s priorities, and coordinating with an abundance of local community groups to make the magic of RTA happen. Marietta Main Street couldn’t be more proud to have Eric as a part of their team.
We had the chance to sit down and chat with him about this year’s RTA Festival. Check out the interview below and get excited to enjoy the adventure of this year’s RTA Festival!
Cristie: What is your role in the Rivers, Trails, & Ales Festival? What are your responsibilities?
I serve as the 2017 Director. Essentially, I’m a project manager. I like to use the analogy that I’m the hub for all the spokes in a wheel. There are so many amazing people helping put the RTA together; I’m just fortunate enough to keep things developing smoothly and on time (and within budget).
What drew you to first become involved with RTA Fest?
First, the people – then followed by the depth of activities as part of the 3 ½ day festival. I saw a need for helping organize volunteers several years ago and then it grew into providing some of my skills to the festival as a whole.
What does the RTA Festival mean to you?
It means expanding an energetic and positive community. It means encouraging folks to head outside and enjoy our local waterways, city trails, beautiful roads, vibrant downtown, and so much more! We sometimes take for granted what we’ve been given so RTA is a way for us to show off what is here and happening all year long in Marietta and Washington County.
Which of the 60+ events that happen over the course of the weekend is your absolute favorite?
Ohhh, tough one! It’s actually a tie between the Saturday Mini-Beer Tasting at Marietta Brewing Company and the Bike Rodeo/Strider Course for the little kiddos. I love having a good beer and I love seeing the next generation of kids rockin’ out the course. It reminds me of when I was little riding around with my brothers.
What is new this year to RTA?
Our biggest addition this year is adding a group mountain bike ride and mid-road ride on Sunday. We also added a new “refine your stroke” paddling event for Sunday. Yoga has been added to Friday and a paddle boarding demo on Saturday. Among these new events, there are several new music and ales events too – check out rtafest.com for more details!
If I was a first-time RTA festival-goer, what advice would you have for me? What recommendations would you have for getting the most out of my first time?
Try out something new to you! Head directly to the Festival HQ (located on the Armory lawn on Front Street) to talk to a Festival volunteer and find out what kinds of events are available to try out. There are free Festival programs available in addition to sweet merchandise to purchase. I would also encourage you to check out rtafest.com and/or find us on Facebook.
Profits generated from RTA Fest support local efforts to strengthen our community. What kinds of projects do you support with RTA?
All profits from the RTA Fest go directly back to Marietta Main Street, our local Marietta Trail Maintenance Fund, and other organizations and events that are related to the RTA mission.
What do you think sets RTA Festival apart from other local festivals?
RTA is set apart from other local festivals because its core foundation is all about promoting active lifestyles. RTA is giving insight into how awesome and transformational events like yoga, hiking, mountain and road biking, paddling, and just walking downtown can be for a person and our local economy.
Do you have an ultimate dream for RTA Festival and what it could be in the future?
I envision RTA becoming a weeklong festival in the future. This is the first time I’ve told anybody that so some of the behind the scenes folks may think I’m crazy. But seeing this from the Director’s role and working with all the awesome sponsors, local government officials, organizations, and having receiving feedback from festival-goers, we have so much more to offer and adding additional days will enable that to happen. I’m looking forward to feedback now that my thoughts are out there!
Any last words?
Thank you to each person who has selflessly helped put the 2017 RTA Festival together. And, thank you to all the sponsors who commit their resources to enhancing our community. Finally, thank you to each person who has and who will partake in the awesome events RTA has to offer!