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Ohio River Ferryboat Festival Deemed A Success

By Staff | Aug 3, 2016

Photo by Miles Layton Legions of walkers and motorists crossed back and forth across the river on Saturday to attend the second annual Ohio River Ferryboat Festival.

SISTERSVILLE – Joy Hayes and Ron Redman sat in their lawn chairs a shop hop from the stage on Saturday at the Ohio River Ferryboat Festival. As the music played, Redman of Sardis said, “I’m here to see the Price Sisters perform.”

Hayes of New Martinsville added, “I’m having a good time. This festival is what brought us here.”

Hundreds of people attended the second annual festival in Sistersville and Fly, Ohio. Temperatures were in the 80s and clear though there were storms up and down the river miles away from the festivities.

For video of folks arriving/departing the ferry, see the Tyler Star News Facebook page.

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.

Folks had an opportunity to ride the last remaining ferry on Ohio River within the Mountain State.

Redman has ridden a ferry or two in his time. Decades ago before the bridge spanned the Ohio River in New Martinsville, Redman worked at Bayer/Mobay five days a week, sometimes six. He said a ferry trip between Duffy and New Martinsville cost 30 cents.

That ferry is long gone, but the memories remain.

“That was the only way to get to work back then until the bridge went up,” Redman said. “I miss riding the ferry.”

The festival featured exhibits, crafts, music and more such as homemade locally produced maple syrup.

“We’re very pleased with the festival,” said Ed Howell, who co-owns Sweetcreek Sugarworks with his lovely wife Connie. The sugary sweet duo makes amazing tasting maple syrup at their farm on Cow House Road, a short hop from Sistersville.

They don’t have just one or two maple trees that produce the nectar needed to turn pancakes into a breakfast fit for the gods, but a forest with more than 3,000 maple trees. When the time comes early winter these maple sugar folks collect between 1,000 and 2,000 gallons of sap so as to brew up between 150 to 250 gallons of syrup.

Several people, including three curious kids, sampled the maple syrup as they walked around the Sistersville side of the festival.

“We’ve had a lot of traffic today,” Connie Howell said.

Across the river, more than 100 people listened to music and there was the distinct smell of fried food in the air. According to Alex King, a key festival organizer, there were 1,169 walk-on rides, 127 cars, 10 motorcycles. The ferryboat’s catch for fares $1,839.

“A festival like this is so unique, and it wouldn’t be possible without the goodness of our communities on both sides of the river,” he said. “From festival sponsors to those who live beside the ferry and allowed us to set up, it is a collaborative effort. I am truly thankful and inspired by the amount of help and support we were given. The star of the day was certainly our ferry, having more than 1,300 rides during an approximately 12 hour period.”