Special brew mixed in: Rivers, Trails and Ales kicks off with traditional party

Marietta’s 2014 Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival officially began with the traditional kickoff party at the Marietta Brewing Company Thursday night.

“We’ve held a kickoff every year since the festival began in 2010, but this year we’re also brewing a special Peddlers Pale Ale for the event,” said MBC owner Tony Styer.

He said the pale American brew would be available throughout the weekend in honor of the fourth annual Rivers, Trails and Ales Fest that features a host of events celebrating hiking, kayak and canoe paddling, mountain and road biking, and “fine ales and music.”

“The Peddlers ale is a good beer to drink once you get off your bike or kayak,” Styer said, adding that the brewery hopes the ale will become a tradition during future festivals.

Festival director Hallie Taylor said Thursday’s party was a perfect kickoff for the three-day festival that’s become one of the area’s popular yearly events.

“Reception for this festival has been very positive, and we’re very energized by all the festival goers and the support of our many local merchants,” she said.

Today’s first scheduled festival event is an adventure paddle at 7 a.m. where several groups of kayakers will follow their leaders to some surprise destinations along the area rivers.

Later in the morning groups of bikers will depart for various-themed rides from the Armory Square lawn.

“The River Trail family fun bike rides at 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday are also a lot of fun,” Taylor said. “And on Sunday thousands of people gather to watch or participate in the Mighty Muskingum River Raft Race.”

She noted most of the Rivers, Trails and Ales activities are free for the public, which has helped increase the event’s popularity.

Among those activities will be a beginner’s mountain biking seminar at 10 a.m. Saturday, conducted by Ken Kupsche who’s been mountain biking for the last four years.

“A lot of people want to try mountain biking, but when they get out on the trail they find it’s different from riding on streets and roadways,” he said. “We help them make sure their bikes are set up properly and give some tips about riding on narrow wood paths.”

Lucas Hill of Salem, Oregon, was among those celebrating at Thursday’s kickoff party.

“My wife and I are going to kayak on the Muskingum River,” he said. “And this will be our first time ever in a kayak. But I’m really looking forward to it. I think this festival is a really cool event.”