MARIETTA - From today through Sunday, outdoor enthusiasts, fans of regional brews and those who just enjoy summer fun will converge on Marietta to celebrate the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival.
The second annual event will encourage residents and visitors alike to discover Marietta's most promising outdoor activities and discover downtown highlights, said RTA Fest organizer Ryan Smith, owner of Marietta Adventure Company in Marietta.
In 2009, National Geographic Adventure listed Marietta in its state-by-state guide to "America's Best Adventure Towns."
"We see this, too, and want to celebrate that," said Hallie Taylor, event organizer and manager of Marietta Adventure Company.
According to Taylor, the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival will feature several new events in 2012.
"We looked at what worked last year and what didn't," she said.
What: Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival.
Where: Armory Lawn (festival headquarters), Front Street, Marietta.
When: Today through Sunday.
Highlights: 8 p.m. today, kick-off party, Marietta Brewing Company; 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday, group bike rides depart from the Armory; 5 - 9 p.m. music, inflatables and activities; Evening, live music at "Ales" locations; 2 p.m. Sunday, kayak and Canoe Turn-Around Race.
Programs: Available in advance at Marietta Adventure Company, 219B Second St., Marietta.
New events include a Paddlers' Dice Run, to be held on Friday and Saturday. Run participants follow a provided map to locate dice containers on the Muskingum and Ohio rivers. Once located, paddlers shake the container and record their score. Scorecards are returned to the festival's Event Headquarters on the Armory Lawn in downtown Marietta and entered for prizes.
On Saturday, the first RTA Fest Kayak & Canoe Turn-around Race will run concurrently with the Mighty Muskingum River Raft Race, which begins at 2 p.m. at the Indian Acres boat ramp.
"There will be a lot to watch," said Smith.
As turn-around racers head upstream from the Indian Acres boat ramp to Colegate and Muskingum drives and turn around at the buoy to head back to the finish line, homemade rafts of all types will be racing down the river at the same time to the same finish line, Taylor said.
"It will be a big spectacle," she added.
A third new event will be a Trails Group Meet-up. Mountain bikers will meet at the Armory at 10 a.m., carpool to Mountwood Park in Wood County, W.Va., and choose from one of two bike rides at the park.
More microbreweries will also be showcased during this year's RTA Fest at participating Marietta bars and restaurants, said Taylor.
The Galley restaurant will feature three brews on tap from Weasel Boy of Zanesville. Boathouse BBQ will offer three brews from Cleveland's Elevator Brewing Co. A Hippie IPA from Buckeye Brewing Company in Columbus will be showcased at the Marietta Brewing Company.
Festival-goers may purchase a VIP Pass at today's kick-off event at the Marietta Brewing Company, at RTA Fest headquarters at the Armory from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; or during business hours at Marietta Adventure Center, 219B Second St., Marietta.
Passes cost $10 each (includes one raffle ticket for prize giveaways) or $20 for five raffle tickets. Prizes include two grand prizes: a Specialized Globe Daily 2 bike and a Perception kayak.
In addition, a VIP Pass gives the holder discounts at 20 downtown businesses.