Thanks to a passionate group of business owners and volunteers, Gallipolis is hosting its second River Rat Beer and Music Festival this Saturday, celebrating music, art, and craft beer in the scenic and historic Gallipolis City Park.

A fundraiser for Gallipolis’ Downtown Revitalization Project (DRP), the festival focuses on uplifting local talent, from regional craft breweries to tattoo artists. Festival-goers can look forward to twelve straight hours of live music, tasty treats from food trucks and vendors, live screen printing by Charleston-based Kin Ship Goods, and even live tattooing by Temple Tattoo.

Maple Lawn Brewery is one of four local breweries participating in this weekend’s festival. Photo by Maple Lawn Brewery.

All proceeds generated through ticket sales, beer, and

festival merchandise benefit the DRP, a charitable nonprofit committed to educating, renovating, and innovating in downtown Gallipolis. While the event is officially hosted by the DRP, local business owners Aaron and Erin Buckley have played a heavy role in making the festival a success.

“The Downtown Revitalization Project helped us buy our building in 2015, so we try and help them raise money when we can,” said Erin.

Aaron and Erin own and run River City Leather, a leather goods company that shares a roof with River City Manufacturing, a small to large scale leather manufacturing company. River City Leather is located on Second Avenue, Gallipolis’ main drag, across from the park. Since opening their business four years ago, the couple said they’ve seen the impact of the DRP first-hand. Standing in front of her shop, Erin began counting new businesses that had opened their doors downtown in recent years.

River City Leather opened its storefront in Gallipolis in 2015. Photo by River City Leather.

“They’ve helped a dozen local businesses in our downtown district since our opening,” she said. “The DRP has been able to help new businesses with start-up costs like rent or large pieces of equipment.”

Other recipients include Lucky Cat Design Co. and The Potted Edge who both received assistance in 2018, and have since opened second locations in Huntington, along with River City Leather.

Aaron and Erin also led the initiative to launch First Fridays in Gallipolis three years ago, working with their neighboring businesses to share ideas on how to bring more of the community downtown. Erin said the investment is worth it to create the kind of community they want Gallipolis to become.

“It’s not about our business making a dollar – this Saturday may not be a great sales day for us,” she said. “We do it because we want to help make cool things happen in our city.”

Photo by Dan Davis of Kin Ship Goods, featuring their design for this year’s festival tees.

And the River Rat Festival is certainly hitting that mark. This year’s musical line-up includes regional artists like Ona, Angela Perley, and Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound, as well as acts from across the country, such as Ghost of Paul Revere, Sierra Ferrell, and Jon Worthy & The Bends.

Tickets are on sale now through www.riverratfestival.com. Festivities officially kick off at 11:00 a.m. and wrap up just before midnight, although as the festival’s tagline suggests, the party never ends – and the river goes on forever.

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