AUGUSTA — A festival rooted in riverside culture took place in Augusta this past weekend.
The Augusta Riverfest Regatta took place along Riverside Drive along the banks of the Ohio River on Friday and Saturday.
Various vendors and artisans were present for visitors to peruse their products amid the backdrop of the Ohio riverfront. Several stern-wheel riverboats were moored by the shore which drew people in to see the spectacle.
Carl Deaton and Connie Hines, owners of the Dresden Belle, one of boats on display at the event, said they’ve been attending the Regatta with their boat for 12 years.
“We love the town, we love the people,” Deaton said “Last year we were presented with the (admiral) trophy.”
According to Deaton and Hines, they travel nearly a thousand miles a year with the Dresden Belle. The vessel travels around seven miles per hour, or a little over six knots, and is powered by a 5.9 Cummins engine.
“We live in Des Moines, Iowa, and that’s about a 15-18 hour drive for us,” Deaton said. “Used to do it in one hop, and now we do it in two — we stop mid-way and make two days out of it. Then we come down to St. Albans, West Va., that’s where the boat is stored for the winter at Lou Wendell Marine, and then we start our river tour from there.”
Deaton said he’s the third owner of the Dresden Belle, and mentioned the previous owner lived in Dresden, Ohio, which the vessel was named after. According to Deaton, he went with the old superstition of not changing the name of a boat.
“We always wanted a river boat, and prior to retirement I bought the boat, that was in 1998, and started working on it,” Deaton said. “That was when it was on the Muskingum River, north of Marietta (Ohio). When the old coal-fired power plant would shut down, that river was frozen solid, so we moved down 100 miles further south; we like the people better than going north.”
The couple both agree living on such a big boat is a lot like camping out on the river—with a full-sized kitchen, two bedrooms and even a storage room used as a library.
“It’s like a king-sized camper,” Deaton said. “It’s like camping, very much like camping. About the same way you meet a lot of good people. We love the little old river towns, and the their history.”
Janet Hunt, Augusta’s director of Tourism, said the Regatta is a good time for family and friends to get together and spend the weekend. The main draw of the event that attracts a lot of visitors, she believes, is the riverside view from the town.
“I have met people from Alaska, from Hawaii, Florida, New Jersey, Nebraska; there were some people the other day from Nebraska that were just coming through,” she said.
Hunt’s favorite part of the event is meeting the various people who visit, whether they be from just down the street, or just passing though. Responses from everyone who attend the Regatta are always positive, Hunt said.