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Rivers, Trails, and Ales Summer Celebration kicking off with safety precautions

(WTAP)
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 2:32 PM EDT
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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - The Rivers, Trails, and Ales Summer Celebration will get underway Friday, though it will look different from previous years. The festival, which will span the next four weeks and conclude on August 9, has been significantly restructured in order to prioritize health and safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The festival, which is being sponsored by Marietta College and Memorial Health System among others, will focus on promoting family-friendly, outdoor activities in the area. Group activities, such as the beerfest, have been canceled. Instead, over the next four weeks, flyers and checklists will be released promoting mountain biking trails, hiking and jogging trails, and other opportunities to take advantage of the outdoors locally.

“We’re still very much promoting the mission of the festival, and that is to get people outside, to get people active, to enjoy what we have here all year ‘round,” said Eric Dowler, festival director.

The festival’s traditional “gnome hikes” are still on the schedule, though they too have been altered to comply with safety guidelines. Typically, festival organizers hide gnomes around hiking areas and families gather to search for them. This year, however, the gnomes will still be hidden but families will be asked to search for them on their own. Dowler noted there will be “special surprises” involved with the gnome hikes.

Because the event also aims to support local breweries, area company Ameriturf is sponsoring a special Rivers, Trails, and Ales badge that will be available in the Untappd app. Festival organizers will use the app to promote local breweries, and users who patronize each location will be able to check in using the app. Once users have checked in at a certain number of locations, they will receive a badge.

While it has been disappointing to cancel some of the events, Dowler said the restructuring has also offered an opportunity to consider new ways of operating and promoting the festival’s mission.

“Just like many other aspects of our lives, restructuring and having to look at the things you do on a daily basis actually has drawn some pretty neat designs of things we maybe ought to continue doing in the future, even when we can go back to being able to socialize more closely and have larger events,” Dowler said.

For more information, visit the event’s website or Facebook page.

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