GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — The food is cooking along First Avenue, Gallipolis City Park is full of inflatables as well as vendors, and the stage is literally set for the Gallipolis River Recreation Festival which returned on Friday.
The festival hosted an opening ceremony along the Ohio River with events planned through today — a fireworks finale will end what has become a summer staple in Gallia County.
Gallia Chamber of Commerce Director Josh Wellington welcomed everyone to the event early Friday afternoon, delivering brief remarks from the main stage.
“Our community has stepped up to the task,” Wellington said of rallying to bring the event back to the area after COVID-19 forced its cancellation in 2020. “Volunteers have been signing up for weeks to help get this festival organized and to all of these volunteers and corporate sponsors, we thank you, we appreciate you and we owe you tremendously.”
As Wellington noted, River Rec has been a summertime tradition in Gallia County for decades.
“This year looks to be extra special as it is the first event of its size since the pandemic restrictions were lifted last month,” Wellington said. “People are looking forward to doing things again and we are ecstatic to be presenting an event for people of all ages.”
Wellington then introduced the guests also gathered on stage, including Gallia Chamber Board President Amanda Ehman, 2019 Junior Miss River Rec Gabriella Valentine, Gallia Commissioners Gene Greene, Jay Stapleton and Harold Montgomery, Gallia Prosecutor Jason Holdren, Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin, U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson, Gallia Common Pleas Court Judge Margaret Evans and Kevin Dennis from Field of Hope Community Campus. Dennis delivered the opening prayer.
“Isn’t this a beautiful day to kick off the river recreation festival…,” Johnson said when delivering his remarks at the opening ceremony. “You know, for nearly 50 years, the citizens of Gallipolis and Gallia County have used this weekend to, sort of, kick off the summer fun time and I am so honored to be here to try and help get this thing off on the right foot. We’re all grateful to be out from under the masks and the confines of COVID and to be able to get out and enjoy the outside and recreation. This is the kind of thing that is happening all across our country this weekend. This is like motherhood and apple pie, because Americans, we love our country and celebrating our independence and meeting with family and friends, that’s what it’s all about.”
Friday’s events at River Rec included a day of gospel and contemporary Christian music, the talent show presented by Gallipolis Junior Women’s Club, Lil’ Miss and Mister Firecracker and River Recreation Pageant.
The parade is at noon today, Saturday, July 3 with Grand Marshal Connor Christian who is also performing later this evening as are the Mikele Buck Band and Confederate Railroad.
The entire schedule for Saturday July 3 is as follows:
Saturday, July 3
7:45 a.m., Baby Tot sign up in front of stage;
9 a.m., Baby Tot;
11:30 a.m., Rotary Mile race starts at Shake Shoppe on Second Ave.;
Noon, parade, downtown Gallipolis, theme is “Take Me to the River”;
2-6 p.m., Kids Day presented by Beau Sang State Farm in City Park;
7 p.m., performance by Connor Christian;
8 p.m., performance by Mikele Buck Band;
9 p.m., performance by Confederate Railroad;
10 p.m., Fireworks presented by Thomas Do It Center.
All River Rec performances and pageants take place on the Robin Fowler State Farm Stage.
River Rec is organized by the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce with the help of volunteers and corporate sponsors. Admission is free.
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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.