The Ohio River Sternwheel Festival was the brainchild of Harry Robinson and Captains Gene Fitch and Bob Limle. The first Ohio River Sternwheel Festival took place the weekend after Labor Day 1976. This festival was held to encourage tourism to the Marietta area as well as preserve the riverboat heritage for which our area is well known.
Over the years, this festival has grown tremendously, attracting an estimated 100,000 people to the Marietta area during the weekend. In addition to the 30-35 authentic sternwheel boats that line the river bank, we offer a full weekend of free, quality, family oriented entertainment and the best fireworks anywhere. Some of the other events that take place during the weekend include: Children’s Activities; Coronation of Queen Genevieve, with scholarships awarded; Little Miss and Little Mr. Sternwheel Pageant; Sunday Sunrise Service; Rollin’ Oldies Car Show, and a Photo Contest.
The Ohio River Sternwheel Festival is a not for profit organization operating on a budget of approximately $140,000 annually. We operate and are funded through corporate sponsors, sales of souvenirs, private donations and fundraising events. Our committee is made up strictly of volunteers with a membership of 85 including officers, a board of trustees and committee chairmen.