Ohio River Sternwheel Fesitval

Ohio River Sternwheel Festival in Marietta Ohio
••• Ohio River Sternwheel Festival. (courtesy of the Ohio Dept. Travel and Tourism)

The Ohio River Sternwheel Festival, located in historic downtown Marietta Ohio, began in 1976. The free, three-day festival draws more than 100,000 visitors each year and showcases more than 30 classic river boats each year. Activities include an art show, food, fireworks, live entertainment children's activities, and lots of fun. The 2013 festival is September 6-8.


The Ohio River Sternwheel Festival was founded in 1976 as a way to showcase the history of the Ohio River and the town of Marietta, Ohio's first European settlement.

The event has grown steadily and now attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually.


In addition to the 30+ sternwheelers moored in downtown Marietta, the Festival features a 5K run, a car show, an art show, food, fireworks, live entertainment children's activities, and a sunrise church service on Sunday.

Hours and Admission:

The Ohio River Sternwheel Festival is open Friday from 6pm, on Saturday from 1130am, and on Sunday from 8am. Admission is free. Limited free parking is available. Ample $5 parking is offered.

Where to Stay near the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival:

Hotels near the Sternwheel Festival include the historic Lafayette Hotel (check rates), overlooking the Ohio River and the Holiday Inn (check rates) and the Magnuson by the River Hotel (check rates), both of which are about one mile away from the Festival. During the Festival, all three hotels offer a free shuttle to the Festival events.

What's a Sternwheeler?:

A sternwheeler is a steam-powered paddle boat with its paddles in the rear (or stern) of the ship. During the 19th century, these vessels were the primary mode of transportation along the Ohio and other United States rivers.

Other Things to Do in Marietta, Ohio:

In addition to the Festival, visitors to Marietta will enjoy the many interesting shops and antique stores in the city's historic downtown shopping district, the area's many Victorian homes, the nearby 64,000-acre Wayne National Forest, the Ohio River Museum, and touring the Fenton Glass Museum and factory.

Contact Information:

Ohio River Sternwheel Festival
P.O. Box 2109
Marietta, OH 45750