Rivers, Trails, Ales

For many, the feeling of hitting the open road, or river, is an experience that shouldn’t be passed up.

During Friday’s myriad events at the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival, there was an Adventure Paddle, group bike rides with mountain bike and road bike courses and a Family Fun Ride. Events will continue throughout the weekend.

Lynn Cady, 47 of Marietta, and her son Aidan Tatro, 10, participated in the afternoon fun ride, consisting of an eight-mile loop on the River Trail.

“We just like to be around other bicyclists,” said Cady. “Especially for (Aidan), so he can have the experience riding with other kids.”

Cindy Taylor, volunteer for the festival, said while she was unsure of the exact number of people who came out for the outdoor excursions, the festival headquarters had been busy.

“I haven’t counted numbers, but it’s been so fun,” she said. “Somebody from Pennsylvania dropped by and saw it was going on. She said she might stay through the weekend…A lot of people from McConnelsville are coming down. I’m seeing young families here with young kids registering for the bicycle scavenger hunt.”

Taylor said VIP passes may still be purchased, for a minimum of $10, which buys the pass and all discounts associated with it plus a raffle ticket for the big prizes of a kayak and bike. For $20, a VIP pass comes with 10 raffle tickets.

“So many local merchants are embracing the festival and I think that’s creating a lot of interest,” said Taylor.

In fact, the VIP pass will get free admission to see bands, free registration for some events and discounts at various stores downtown.

Roy Stephens, 38, of Cincinnati, came to Marietta for the weekend just to participate in the festival.

“We looked online for events in Ohio we thought might be interesting,” he said. “It was this or a cookie festival. This one is more healthy and had more events. This is our family vacation this year.”

Stephens completed the new scavenger hunt with his children, Hazel, 8 and Jade, 5.

While Jade said she was enjoying “just biking,” Hazel said one thing was a little intimidating.

“The (Harmar Railroad) Bridge was freaky,” she said.

Stephens said they are looking forward to several events through Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to the bike rodeo, bike parade and the tortoise and the hare (event),” he said. “We really enjoyed the scavenger hunt. We’re actually taking (the idea) back to our hometown to get one started.”

Upcoming events for Saturday include a Lowell to Marietta lock-thru paddle, slacklining workshop, a Beer Mini-Fest and for Sunday a BIG Road Ride, Blessing of the Bicycles and the Mighty Muskingum River Raft Race, the event’s big finale.

The slacklining workshop is sure to please the adventurous, said organizers.

Cat Bigley, owner of SWAGG, 175 Front St., is running the workshop, which will be held in Muskingum Park.

“It’s bouncy like a trampoline, but looks like somebody on a tight rope,” said Bigley. “It’s good for balance and core strength. For me, it’s something fun I can do with my kids.”

Bigley said it looks like something one might see under a big top.

“It looks like a circus act you can do outside,” she said. “There’s a lot of tricks you can do…It’s now developed into an actual sport. It’s very popular all over the world.”

The sessions will cost $25 for one or $30 for both, which will be held 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Tony Styer, owner of the Marietta Brewing Company, said the Beer Mini-Fest is coinciding with the festival for the first time this year.

“This year we decided to up the ante on the ales portion to give it more oomph,” he said. “It’s going to be a fest, that’s for sure.”

About 20 brews will be available for sampling including some from the Marietta Brewing Company, Elevator Brewing Company, Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, Seventh Son Brewing Company, The Actual Brewing Company, Jackie O’s Brewery, Fat Head’s Brewery, Weasel Boy Brewing Company, Mad Tree Brewing Company and West End Cider House.

“Each one of them is bringing a couple choices, so we’ll have at least 20 beers to try,” said Styer.

Tickets are available at the Brewery for $35. Some of the brews include dark Russian Imperial Stouts and several pale ales.

“There’s something for everyone; there’s always a Plan B,” said Styer.