On Saturday, August 3rd, the Inland Waterways Festival will return to the Ohio River Museum for the fifth time. A free, educational event, the Inland Waterways Festival takes place every other year and features performers, storytellers, music, hands-on activities, wildlife displays, a freshwater aquarium, and more.
The Inland Waterways Festival was created to commemorate the heritage and continuing importance of American’s rivers, canals, and lakes in the development of the nation. “Our goal is to educate the public about how the waters were a viable means of transportation for commerce and culture and are still heavily relied upon today,” explained the Friends of the Museums.
This year’s event features a variety of skilled presenters, living history re-enactors, and storytellers. From boating knots to minstrel music and the humorous musings of Mark Twain, the schedule is full of fun activities for the whole family. Sandra and Richard Hennings, members of the Ohio River Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, will share stories of the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s contributions to America’s heritage. Susanna “Granny Sue” Holstien, a member of the National Storytelling Network and the West Virginia Storytelling Guild, will also be performing Appalachian stories and ballads.
“Our speakers and presenters promote the importance of the inland waterways by sharing their knowledge and deep appreciation of the impact these waterways have on our lives today and in the past,” said Glenna Hoff, Director of Education and Programs. “We also highlight some of the history of the inland waterways and their importance in the development of our state and our nation.”
A fan favorite, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) will return with its 2,200-gallon freshwater aquarium and “Life Below the Waterline” display sponsored by the Marietta Community Foundation. Families can also look forward to wildlife displays featuring large birds of prey.
“We aren’t just showing pictures or telling stories, we are providing experiences and bringing our river heritage to life,” said Hoff. “People can see how a hand-operated lock operates. They get to see the types of fish that live below the waterline. They can tour a 100-year-old sternwheel, the early workhouse on the river. They can listen to stories about the early days on the rivers.”
New to this year’s festival are the additions of the Mid-Ohio Valley Dragon Boat Team and the RiverWorks Discovery, which educates communities about the commerce, culture, conservation, and careers of the great rivers of America and their watersheds.
“We hope children will realize the importance of our rivers that was a big part of our history,” said Hoff. “This part of our history is sometimes overlooked. We hope that children and adults appreciate our unique setting, being located at the confluence of two major rivers that we sometimes take for granted.”
This year’s festival is sponsored by Gary and Sharon Frye, the Marietta Community Foundation, the Washington County Public Library, and the Friends of the Museums. The festival takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 3rd at the Ohio River Museum, located on Front Street in Downtown Marietta, Ohio.