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Ohio River Ferryboat Festival has long history

By KATE YORK

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

SISTERSVILLE, Ohio — While the Ohio River Ferryboat Festival will only mark its third year this weekend, its roots actually go back much, much further to documentation from George Washington’s diary in 1770.

“He documented when he came down and camped in Fly, Ohio,” said Mick Schumacher, who is helping organize the festival and is president of the Monroe Arts Council. “The event is celebrating the heritage of this part of the river.”

The festival takes place along what’s known as the Long Reach of the Ohio River, the only straight stretch of the waterway.

“It goes on for a 20-mile stretch,” said Schumacher.

The festival is unique in another way as well.

“It takes place in two states, two counties and two communities,” said Alex King, Sistersville Ferry board member and event coordinator. “That makes it really fun.”

The event is held Friday through Sunday by the landing for the Sistersville Ferry on the Tyler County side and along Ohio 7 in Fly on the Monroe County side.

“We have a little more room on the West Virginia side for vendors and bounce house activities and Ohio does a good job with the musical acts,” said King. “It’s really an incentive to visit both sides and that generates income for the ferry.”

Rides on the ferry are $7 for cars and $1 for walk-ons, said Schumacher.

The Sistersville Ferry is one of only four ferries remaining on the Ohio River today and the only one between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, he said.

“As far as the documents we can find, we’ve had ferry traffic here since 1817,”Schumacher said. “It’s a very special part of the history here.”

History will be celebrated at the festival on Saturday, with reenactors, including people portraying George Washington and his survey crew and American Indians that lived in the area in that time.

“We invited people who could represent 300 years of travelers,” said Schumacher.

Throughout the whole festival, there will be plenty of musical acts, vendors, food and activities for children including a petting zoo. Prizes to be given out on the ferry include a three-hour catered cruise.

There will be free ice cream and freeze pops on the Ohio side, along with food from the Riverview Restaurant. The West Virginia side will have a pizza food truck among others and more than 30 craft and other vendors. In conjunction with the festival, the Sistersville Pool will have a free swim day all three days of the event.

“Saturday is our big day, with the most vendors and entertainment on the stage from 9 in the morning to 9 at night,” said Schumacher.

On Sunday, all the musical acts will perform gospel music, he said.

The festival is being organized by the Ferryboat Festival Committee, Monroe Arts & Visitors Center, Sistersville Ferry Board and Jackson Township Trustees.

Ohio River Ferryboat Festival Schedule

Ohio Side

Friday

Starting at 9 a.m.: Plein Air Painting along the riverbank

Saturday

9 a.m. Opening Ceremonies

10 a.m. to noon Steel Casa

Noon to 1 p.m. Ben Blackstone

1 to 2 p.m. One Accord

2 to 3 p.m. Lazy River Dixieland Jazz Band

3 to 4 p.m. Tuel Turnout (under the cottonwood tree)

3 to 3:30 p.m. Karissa Martin, Miss Ohio 2008

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Reenactors on stage

4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Jessica Schoonover

6 p.m. The Price Sisters

Sunday

9 a.m. Opening Ceremonies

9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Worship service (on the Sistersville Ferry) Sistersville First Baptist Church and Gravel Hill Baptist Church with special music by The Schoonover Family

11 a.m. to noon The Peacemakers

* Noon The Clark Family (Ohio Valley Opry)

3:30 to 5 p.m. High on Hope Ministries

West Virginia Side

Saturday

9:30 a.m. Opening ceremonies

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Petting zoo

Noon to 4 p.m. Bounce house

1 to 3 p.m. Almost Famous Bluegrass

3 to 5 p.m. High Street Jazz Band

5 to 7 p.m. Tom Roddey Tom Roddey

Sunday

9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Shared worship service (on the Sistersville Ferry)

1 to 3 p.m. Black Diamond Wrestling

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