Lorie Neal, IOM, executive director of the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce, said River Rec organizers have made it a priority to provide a wide range of activities for children during the festival.
“During the past several years, Gwen Doss has chaired the Kids Day committee for the festival and worked very hard to obtain sponsors, allowing us to have unique and fun entertainment for the children,” Neal said. “She also seeks out businesses, politicians and anyone who is interested to donate new toys for prize give-a-ways that day. Her goal is to give away a prize every 30 minutes.”
Neal said children can register to win prizes at the Kids Day tent, which will be located next to the doughboy monument on the First Ave. side of the city park. Some of the prizes that will be given away this year include bicycles, water guns, a water slide, radio-controlled toy ATVs and a yo-yo sling disc.
“It costs children nothing to participate in any and all of the Kids Day activities,” Neal added. “The contests and games are good old fashion fun. I encourage everyone to bring their children to the city park and enjoy the festivities and fun.”
The 2010 festival kicks off on a positive note on Thursday, July 1 with discounts offered on all amusement rides beginning at 5 p.m. American Electric Power’s Gavin Plant is sponsoring the evening.
The midway will be open in two sessions each day, from noon-5 p.m. and 6-11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Amusement operators will take a mandatory break from 5-6 p.m. daily with all rides shut down during that time.
Neal said wristbands, which are good for admission to rides, will be available on Friday, July 2 and Saturday, July 3. The price is $12. No wristbands will be available on Sunday, July 4.
Wristbands must be purchased for each separate session that the rides are in operation.
The Baby Tot Sparkler and Lil Miss and Mister Firecracker contests are scheduled for Friday, July 2 on the main stage. Registration for the Baby Tot Sparkler contest will be accepted from 7:45-8:55 a.m. with the contest set for 9 a.m. The contest is sponsored by Wee Care Day Care.
Contestants for Lil Miss and Mister Firecracker can register from 10:30-11 a.m. That contest begins at 11 a.m. The contest is sponsored by Holzer Clinic’s pediatrics department.
A full day of events is planned for Saturday, July 3, which has been designated Kids Day at River Rec. The Bass Busters Kids Casting Tournament kicks off the day’s activities at 9 a.m.
The French Art Colony Youth Art in the Park exhibit will be open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the FAC’s tent in Gallipolis City Park.
The Gallipolis Lions Club is sponsoring some good, old fashioned fun, with terrapin races, frog jumping and sack races scheduled at 11 a.m.
The oreo stacking contest will take place at 12:30 p.m. Eastman’s Foodland is sponsoring that event.
The Southeastern Ohio Safety Council will host a child safety program beginning at 1:30 p.m. with information and tips for parents and kids alike.
Southern Ohio’s native funnyman Mark Wood brings his fun show to River Rec this year. Kids big and small can catch his high-energy, hands-on comedy act from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, July 3 in the park.
The O.O. McIntyre Park District is sponsoring some more old fashioned games for kids at 2 p.m. An egg race, hay rolling and another sack race are on tap.
The Kiwanis Club balloon toss is set for 3 p.m. followed by hula hoop and bubble gum blowing contests sponsored by the French Art Colony at 4 p.m. Kids Day wraps up with the annual watermelon eating contest at 5 p.m., sponsored by Fruth Pharmacy.
The third day of River Rec also features the annual Rotary Mile, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. The race was founded in 1949 and was originally called the Gil Dodds Mile in honor of one of the top U.S. distance runners of the time.
Dodds went on to work with Youth for Christ and later became a Baptist minister and track coach at Wheaton College in Illinois. In 1948, Dodds came to Gallipolis for the dedication of Memorial Field and spoke at a banquet hosted by First Baptist Church.
The race is open to boys and girls in three age divisions: 10-under, 11-13 and 14-graduating high school seniors. Trophies for first and second place finishers will be awarded in each division.
All runners interested in participating in the Rotary Mile should meet at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 3 at the Shake Shoppe on Second Ave. in Gallipolis. Each participant must bring the race registration form with the signature of their parent or guardian.
River Rec wraps up on Sunday night with the annual fireworks display set for 10 p.m. The Ohio Valley Symphony will provide musical accompaniment for the fireworks.
Neal said French City Child Care is conducting a fundraiser to support the festival’s fireworks fund. Staff from the day care have set up donation barrels at its location on Third Ave. in Gallipolis, and also at Ohio Valley Bank on Third Ave. in Gallipolis, Farmers Bank on Eastern Ave. in Gallipolis and the Foodland stores on Second Ave. in Gallipolis and Jackson Pike. Area residents who wish to support the fireworks fund can drop off donations at any of those locations.
French City is hosting fundraising activities from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Friday, June 25 at its Third Ave. location. Owner Lisa Osborn said children who attend the day care center will present the donation to festival officials during River Rec’s opening ceremony on July 1.
(Editor’s note: More information about the history of the Rotary Mile and Gil Dodds can be found at the Gallipolis Rotary Club’s Web site, www.gallipolisrotary.org.)