PARKERSBURG — A pair of events brought boats of all sizes to Point Park this past weekend, along with people to look at them and listen to live music.
Eighteen sternwheelers gathered along the Point for the return of Riverfest, the most vessels the free event has drawn, organizer Scot Heckert said. Meanwhile, more than 100 folks in people-powered watercraft participated in Paddlefest events Friday and Saturday, said Mark Lewis, president and CEO of the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“It was a great event for not having done it for three years,” Lewis said, citing the pandemic hiatus Paddlefest and other events took in 2020 and 2021.
Approximately 120 boats joined in the lighted paddle up the Little Kanawha River on Friday evening, with about 140 taking part in the main event Saturday, traveling on the Ohio River to Blennerhassett Island and back.
In fact, Lewis said, the park probably couldn’t have handled any more.
“Hopefully, we’ll work with the City of Parkersburg to increase the space that we have to get the boats in and out,” he said.
Organizers didn’t mind sharing space with Riverfest.
“We work well together. The whole Point is taken over with activity,” Lewis said.
Having Downtown PKB’s Downtown Throwdown in Bicentennial Park on Saturday evening was also a plus.
“That’s been what we wanted to do and get people to come in for the weekend and enjoy all the events,” Lewis said.
A few people did just that, he learned, when he led a group of about 10 on an excursion to the North Bend State Park Lake on Sunday morning to close out Paddlefest.
“They had been there, staying in local hotels, for three days,” Lewis said.
Heckert said between listening to the live music at Riverfest, looking at boats or participating in Paddlefest and the Throwdown, there was something for everyone downtown this weekend.
“A lot of kids got to come out and see things that they hadn’t ever seen before,” he said.
Evan Bevins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.