Harmar Days Returns, Harmar Summer Raffle Announced

The Historic Harmar Bridge Company (HHBC) announced the return of the annual Harmar Days festival on Friday, July 30 through Sunday, August 1st in Harmar Village, Marietta, Ohio. In addition to the festival’s return, the nonprofit is hosting a Summer Raffle featuring an array of valuable prizes, including a brand new, 2021 Toyota Tacoma truck.

The Historic Harmar Bridge Company is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that cares for the Historic Harmar Bridge. Each year, Harmar Days is the primary source of funds to maintain and operate the bridge. Since the bridge was turned and closed to pedestrian traffic last spring due to safety and liability concerns, the community and visitors alike have missed the vital role it plays in both Marietta’s history and accessibility from the west side to downtown. Now, HHBC is hoping to raise the funds needed to fully restore the bridge.

This year, the festival is expanding to three days and will include live music, food trucks, a beer garden, craft vendors, games and children’s activities, a car show, a country store raffle, and much more. Throughout the weekend, participants will also be able to purchase tickets for the Harmar Bridge Summer Raffle.

Crowds on Maple Street during a previous Harmar Days (Kelly Rockhold)

Larry Sloter, Chair of the Historic Harmar Bridge Company and owner of the Busy Bee Restaurant, LLC in Harmar Village, said the goal for the Summer Raffle is to raise over $200,000 to help save the bridge.

“We decided to go big this year because we have a new board and there is a renewed focus in the community to save the bridge and to get it reopened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic,” he said. “Harmar Days is the perfect event for us to focus around because it has always been the primary fundraiser to help with standard operations of the bridge company. This year the Harmar Days festival will be refocused from just a west side street fair to a truly Marietta community event to spotlight efforts to save Historic Harmar Bridge.”

Tickets are being sold for $100 apiece and only 2,500 tickets are available. In addition to the 2021 Toyota Tacoma, ticket holders will have a chance to win numerous other high-dollar items, including two early bird cash prizes. The first early bird drawing for $500 in cash is Friday, June 25th. To be eligible for the first drawing, tickets must be purchased by 5:00 pm on Thursday, June 24th. Tickets are available online at www.SaveHarmarBridge.com and in person at the Busy Bee Restaurant at 226 Gilman Avenue.

The Harmar Bridge connects Harmar Village to Downtown Marietta, crossing near the Marietta Harbor (Kelly Rockhold)

As a business owner, Sloter said he’s invested in restoring the bridge. “An open and active bridge will improve the flow of traffic and help us attract new shops and business owners to Harmar,” he said. “For my business specifically, visitors already interested in walking the bridge finish in the train yard owned by the Historic Harmar Bridge Company, which is right across the parking lot from my restaurant, thus increasing our likelihood of new customers. Downtown Marietta and Historic Harmar Village both benefit from this piece of history.”

Tom Fenton, Secretary of the Historic Harmar Bridge Company and Harmar Resident, said the restoration of the Harmar Bridge is critical to the livelihood of our community.

“During recent decades, the bridge has served pedestrians and cyclists as the most direct link between the east and west downtown Marietta business districts,” said Fenton. “The bridge’s scenic walkway has been the most feasible route – an easy walk — available for tour bus passengers visiting downtown Marietta to walk to commercial establishments or to tour historical sites on both sides of the river. Business owners (and their employees) on each side of river have relied on the bridge’s easy access to help their customers patronize downtown Marietta. Our goal is to not only restore a vital transportation link, but also to create a scenic and historical destination for residents and visitors alike.”

Prior to closure, people could stand on the bridge while it was turned during the festival (Kelly Rockhold)

In addition to expanding Harmar Days and launching the Harmar Bridge Summer Raffle, the Historic Harmar Bridge Company has been hard at work since the closing of the bridge to pedestrian traffic last spring. Fenton said steady progress has been made towards a decision about necessary bridge repairs, design modifications, and yearly maintenance/inspection routines.

“The first major engineering step of the project will be taken later this year when a professional bridge inspection firm conducts a thorough inspection of all six masonry piers – above and below water,” he said. Inspection and planning for the steel spans are planned for 2022. “The Historic Harmar Bridge Company is consulting every step of the way with county and city engineering departments as well as other city officials. Concurrently, groundwork is being laid with regional, state, and federal entities concerning future construction funding.”

To date, the Historic Harmar Bridge Company has raised more than $100,000 towards the restoration of the bridge in community donations, grants, and fundraising activities, including donations made to the Save Harmar Bridge Fund housed at the Marietta Community Foundation. To learn more, visit saveharmarbridge.com.