Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Charleston Labor Day Weekend Festival

You really can't call it the Sterwheel Regatta anymore, now can you? I heard Sharon King, director of the festival formerly known as Regatta, on the radio yesterday trying to sound upbeat and chipper about a sternwheel-less regatta. She blames high fuel prices on the absence of the boats that give the festival its name. Look at the schedule and notice the dearth (maybe "death" is more apt) of river activities at this year's festival. Sad.

I remember standing on the South Side Bridge when I was 12 years old watching the big boats come across the finish line at the Second Annual Sternwheel Regatta in 1972. I didn't realize then how big the festival would become, and many years later as I stood on the levee with a few thousand of my closest friends watching and listening to The Beach Boys I wondered how much bigger it could get. It was a big deal for several years, then I think it got so big that it scared the city leaders and they took steps to scale it back - way back. Back so far that it doesn't even include sternwheelers anymore.

This year's FestivAll remided me of the early days of the Regatta. I hope its organizers learn from the Regatta and not allow it to suffer the same dinosaur-like rise and fall as Regatta.


Anathema Device said...

A Regatta with no sternwheelers is just sad. I am really disappointed in the state of Regatta affairs. Even if the sternwheelers can't make it, you'd think there would be other river-related activities. The "Anything that Floats" race was always a blast.

Charles said...

The Anything That Floats race and the Inner Tube race are still on the schedule, but they are the only river activities remaining.

That'll really help our hillbilly image, won't it? A river festival where the only river activities are boat races for floating junk heaps and inner tubes.