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Ferryboat Festival Steams Ahead

By Staff | Jul 27, 2016

SISTERSVILLE – The Ohio River Ferryboat Festival is taking place between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday in Sistersville and Fly, Ohio.

“It will offer something for everyone,” said festival coordinator and Sistersville Ferry Board Member Alex King. “We have a lot going on so you can ride the ferry back and forth to enjoy what the two neighboring counties have to offer.”

During this inter-state, inter-county, inter-community event celebrating one of the last passenger ferries on the Ohio River, visitors are welcome to ride the historic ferryboat service from Sistersville, West Virginia to Fly, Ohio and vice versa. Those who ride will have a chance to win prizes; the 500th passenger of the day will win a dinner cruise for up to 25 people, with dinner donated by Marv’s Place of Sardis, Ohio. People will be counted each time they ride. That cruise and dinner will be scheduled at the convenience of the winner, the ferry, and the restaurant.

“Join us in celebrating the fact Monroe and Tyler counties have one of only four ferries that continue to operate on the entire 981-mile length of the Ohio River,” said Sistersville Ferry Board Member Janet Witten-Conn, whose Monroe County ancestors had operated the service during its 200-year history. “The ferry is something for all of us to be very proud of. It makes our area unique.”

The twelve-hour festival consists of music entertainment, historic reenactors, various food and snack trucks, pro-wrestling by Black Diamond Wrestling, a firefighters’ water battle, a free swim at Sistersville Pool, a dunk tank, and much more. A complete list of the events scheduled on both sides of the river can be found at the end of this article. The setup will be beside the ferryboat landing and Riverview Restaurant in Ohio and along Riverside Drive in Sistersville.

Those in attendance can purchase limited edition commemorate mugs honoring the 2016 Ohio River Ferryboat Festival for $10, as well as a special run of King’s Blingz Pendants featuring the ferry. Those donated items will help raise funds for future festivities.

Because this festival also serves as a fundraiser for the Sistersville Ferry, visitors must still pay to ride. However, it is only $1 a person per one-way ride if they walk on the ferryboat. Each car costs $5 per one-way trip, and each motorcycle costs $4 per one-way trip. Last year’s festival raised nearly $1,500 for the Sistersville Ferry.

“The Sistersville Ferry Board is so excited about the festival,” said Ferry Board Chair Barb Gage. “It gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase our historic resource, the only remaining ferry to cross the Ohio River from West Virginia. We hope that folks will come share the experience of riding the ferry and enjoy the wonderful activities, music, food, and other sites on both sides of the river. The festival committee has worked diligently to make the day special for people of all ages. Please come share this special event and support our ferry and the communities it serves.”

The festival began last year following successful fundraising efforts in which the community at large, including both sides of the Ohio River and ferryboat fans from all over the country, helped raise upward of $20,000 to ensure the service’s future. The Sistersville Ferry Board has continued to work toward sustainable operations and other sources of revenue, including successful ferryboat cruises scheduled by Operations Manager Gene Rice, who can be reached at 304-588-7423 if you are interested in renting the boat for a private cruise.

“The ferry depends solely on the support of its patrons,” said Rice. “Without them we could not operate.”

“After seeing the results of our first festival last year, I am extremely excited about this year’s festival and the ways with which we have been able to expand it,” said festival coordinator Mick Schumacher, who is also a Monroe County Commissioner that serves as a member of the Monroe Arts Council, the festival’s 501(c)3 fiscal agent. “The inclusion of our shared cultural arts and heritage centered around the historic transportation is a very unique story to tell.”

Fly, OH Schedule for July 30th

(a parking shuttle service will be available)

9-10 a.m.

Opening Ceremony

10-11 a.m.

Karissa Martin

11 a.m. 12 p.m.

Ben Blackstone

12-1 p.m.

George Washington & Co. (reenactors)

1-2 p.m.

Dixie Land Jazz Band

2-3 p.m.

Monroe Singers; Variety

3-5 p.m.

Steel Casa Drums

5-6:30 p.m.

Albin Rovan; Accordion

6:30 p.m.

The Price Sisters; Bluegrass Broken Timber

Sistersville, WV Schedule July 30th

8-10 a.m.

Vendor setup

10-11 a.m.

Opening ceremony

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Dunk Tank

12:30 p.m.

Free Swim begins at Sistersville Pool

1-3 p.m.

Black Diamond Wrestling

3:00-4:30 p.m.

Firefighters Water Battle (along Sistersville Walking Trail)

4:30-6:30 p.m.

Bobby Maynard & Breakdown

The festival will also include Friendly Lions Club Bingo, Danny Westfall’s Giant Bubble Wagon, and the Sistersville Museum will be open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information about the festival, or to become a vendor, contact Alex King at 304-771-8835.

Those interested in staying overnight before and after the festival can contact the Wells Inn of Sistersville at 304-652-1312.