This is Home: Onboard a sternwheeler for the Sternwheeler Festival

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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - It happens once a year – dozens of sternwheelers and thousands of visitors arrive on the shores of Marietta for one of the biggest festivals in the region.

The 44th Ohio River Sternwheel Festival takes over Marietta this weekend. Earlier this week, WTAP was invited to step aboard the Lauren Elizabeth sternwheeler. It’s owned by Steven Price and his family from East Liverpool, Ohio. HIs father, William has been coming to the festival since it started in 1976

The Price family grew up on the river and are no strangers to the Dternwheel Festival.

"I was here for the first one and this is the 44th and I’ve missed about five," William Price said.

Sternwheelers are a type of paddleboat. They’v been in use in the United States for more than 100 years and are tied to the history of the river. So naturally, the Price family thought it would be cool to build a sternwheeler of its own.

"I grew up on sternwheel boats commercially, so my son decided we needed to build a sternwheeler," William Price said, "so we built the Lauren Elizabeth and this is her 17th year."

The family started building it in 1995 and it made its first appearance at the festival in 2002.

"Building it I never thought I’d see it done but it was fun," Steven Price said. "I enjoyed building it."

The boat is 125 feet overall by 22 feet wide and is basically a floating house, with a complete kitchen, two full-size bedrooms, air conditioning, heating and more.

Steve and his dad belong to the American Sternwheel Sssociation. The group was formed around the time of the first festival and the Prices say they’re like family.

"It’s good group of people," Steve Price said. "It’s like a car club with boats."

"It’s kind of a reunion," William Price said. "You know, we know each other and get to get together and just comradery."

The sternwheelers are just as connected to the river as the people who captain them.

"That’s the heritage," Steven Price said. "The sternwheel boats started out on the river, pushing barges and you can go back to steamboats that had paddlewheels, the packet boats that would come up and deliver goods, so yeah it’s a huge identity to the rivers."

And William says while they travel to other cities along the river each summer, no body is a better host than Marietta.

"Marietta, it's number one," he said. "It’s [the festival] the greatest. Like I said, other towns have tried it but marietta was way back in the beginning. They’re hanging in there, so hey 44 years, they’re doing something right."

The Price family is just one of dozens of sternwheelers docked here this weekend.

Over 100,000 people are expected to visit Marietta this weekend for the festival.

Opening Ceremonies 

6:00 PM

Steve & Beverly Pottmeyer

 7:00 pm Ohio River levee

Little Miss and Mr. Sternwheel Pageant

 7:30 PM Lafayette Hotel Ballroom
The 2019 Little Miss and Mr. Sternwheel Pageant will be held Friday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the Lafayette Hotel.


8:00 p.m. Ohio River levee

Oak & Ash

 9:00 p.m. Ohio River levee
Hailing from New York City, Oak & Ash formed in late 2014 and set out to change the landscape of the Pop/ Rock scene with a variety of soulfully written and performed original records. Their explosive anthems, soaring guitar solos, soulful vocals, and recognizable pop song structure, has been compared to a mix between Kings of Leon, Maroon 5, and Coldplay. In August of 2016 they were named the winner of Newsday's Battle of the Bands contest and in early 2017 they were named the winner of Bon Jovi's "Opening Act Contest." Just over three years after its formation, the group has booked renowned venues such as The Gramercy Theatre, Irving Plaza, The Paramount Theatre, Webster Hall, and most recently Madison Square Garden, opening for Bon Jovi.

The Blue Stones 

10:00 p.m. Ohio River levee
Listening to the larger-than-life, but tight and precise blues-rock of The Blue Stones on their Entertainment One debut, Black Holes, it is astonishing to discover all that sound and fury is created by just two people.
Guitarist/vocalist/lyricist Tarek Jafar and percussionist/backing vocalist Justin Tessier, have known each other since meeting as kids just across the Detroit River in their Canadian hometown of Windsor, Ontario. But it wasn’t until attending university together, that they decided to combine their talents into a musical project.
The Blue Stones have an incredibly diverse palette of influences -- and although they’re a duo, it’s unfair to limit the comparisons just to The Black Keys and The White Stripes. The weight of Led Zeppelin, the grit of Hendrix and groove from hip-hop artists like J. Cole and Kanye are all there. But in an effort that’s unlike any other in contemporary rock, the result is something entirely unique to today’s musical landscape.
From the slap back echo and the Rolling Stones’ “ooh-oohs” in the gut-punching “The Drop,” through the tribute to perseverance in the catchy, bluesy “Rolling with the Punches” and the acoustic-to-electric whisper-to-a-scream dynamism of the title track, Black Holes shows a band blasting into outer space and leaving “Solid Ground” behind.  It’s the voyage of a group beginning to find its way, emerging from isolation and perspiration to inspiration, reaching an audience waiting to be tapped and entertained. An Alternative Blues Rock band fighting the good fight, looking to connect in an increasingly fragmented music universe.
“The album’s about being a young adult and entering the real world from a sheltered environment, like college,” explains Jafar. “Feeling torn between taking the secure path or doing something that might be riskier, but you’re passionate about… following what you love as opposed to sticking to the straight and narrow.”
Indeed, “Black Holes (Solid Ground)” is about precisely that either/or dichotomy, caught between infinite space and terra firma, willing to take a shot at the unknown rather than settle for the familiar, in between Jafar’s restless guitars and Tessier’s heavy-hitting and massively impressive drum beats.
“We play blues-rock, though it’s not loose and dirty,” explains Justin. “It’s lean, raw, tight, without a wasted note.”
It took seven long years – and two independently released EPs – for The Blue Stones to hone their approach, putting in those requisite 10,000 hours to perfect their craft, and then build upon that. As Jafar describes the audience participation of “Rolling with the Punches,” which is the group’s usual, rollicking set-closer, “It takes a lot to be a success. You have to stay determined  and focused. And it’s always fun to have people sing the words you’ve written and just sit back and take it all in.”
There’s a similar message in the album finale, “Magic,” in which Jafar admits he doesn’t believe in it. “People these days are all looking for instant gratification, the quick reward,” he says. “If you want something that will endure, that’s not how it works. You have to put in the hours and the effort.”
The Blue Stones have done just that, with an approach that isn’t afraid to take chances, like mining Jafar’s love of hip-hop and Miles Davis into the funky backbeat of “Be My Fire” or the epic psychedelic experimentation in the pitch-dark “Midnight.”
“You never know where we’ll pull inspiration from,” says Justin.
“This is the album we’ve always wanted to make,” adds Tarek. “We set out to show we’re more than loud and lo-fi, that we have range and dynamics.”
And now it’s time to take to the road, play these songs and add to their growing legion of admirers.
“We have dreams and we have goals, but we separate the two,” adds Justin. “A dream is to headline Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, where we saw so many great bands. Our goal, though, is to reach out at every show and win people over one by one. That’s how we’ve always done it and it’s worked so far. We believe in what we’re doing and we have emotional connections to the songs we’re playing.  We want to provide our audience with the kind of experiences we had when we were younger attending shows of our favorites.  That’s what we look to pass on.”
“My whole attitude is, let’s see what happens,” nods Tarek. “And that’s allowed me to be up for anything.” “It’s not over now,” he sings in “Lay,” “Don’t lay your flag and turn away/Please don’t leave me with another regret.”
With the release of Black Holes, The Blue Stones are ready to raise the stakes and turn up the heat.

Marietta High School Wall of Sound

 12:00 pm Ohio River levee

Children's Activities

 12:00 pm Gazebo on the corner of Ohio and Third Streets 12 p.m. to 4 p.m 
Face Painting
 Riverworks Discovery 
Balloon Twisters
 Carnival Games

Marietta High School Choir - Vocal Point

 1:00 pm

Two Buds and a Slap Box

 2:00 pm Ohio River levee

Anthony Mossburg

 3:00 pm Ohio River levee

Four on the Floor

 4:00 pm Ohio River levee

Track 9

5:00 pm Ohio River levee

Jake Binegar

 6:00 pm Ohio River levee

Anthony Mossburg

 6:30 pm Ohio River levee

Coronation of Queen Genevieve 

7:00 PM The selection of Queen Genevieve will be announced at the Coronation Ceremony, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. on the barge.

Jake Binegar 

7:30 PM

Track 9

8:00 PM

Simply Queen

 9:00 PM Ohio River Levee
Simply Queen is a world class act.
They have headlined theatre and outdoor festival shows to audiences of thousands (and even tens of thousands) all over Canada and the United States.
Simply Queen is fronted by Freddie Mercury impersonator extraordinaire Rick Rock.  Guitarist Bob Wegner was hand-picked by Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor to play guitar in several productions of the award-winning "We Will Rock You" musical. Drummer Phil Charrette and bassist Mitch Taylor are veterans of the southwestern Ontario and Detroit circuits.
The band performs all the iconic songs that made Queen one of the most legendary rock bands of all time, and faithfully recreates the grand scope of Queen's live shows, both musically and visually, with attention to detail capturing the live amazing live Queen experience that filled stadiums around the world.  No backing tracks - it's all live, and "Guaranteed to Blow Your Mind!"

Harry J. Robinson Memorial Fireworks

 9:30 PM Pyrotecnico has produced the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival Fireworks, each year better than the last.
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Simply Queen 

10:00 PM Ohio River Levee

Sunrise Service

 8:00 am, Ohio River levee

Car Show 

9:00 am to 4:00 pm Second Street in Marietta

Alfie and Omegas 

10:00 am Ohio River Levee

Sons of Maverick

 11:00 am Ohio River Levee

The Settlement Band

 12:00 am Ohio River Levee

Children's Activities

 12:00 am Gazebo on the corner of Ohio and Third Streets
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Balloon twisters
, Carnival Games, 
COSI on Wheels - 15 kiosks

Captain James E. Sands Memorial Races

 1:00 pm

The Settlement Band

 2:00 pm Ohio River Levee

Motown Sounds of Touch 

2:30 pm Ohio River Levee