Regatta opening night crowd wows organizers

CHARLESTON ,W.Va. — Sternwheel Regatta Commissioner Brian Hughes said he turned to Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin Thursday night and said “we did it.”

Hughes and Goodwin came away from the opening night of the return of Regatta pleased with the crowd that showed up for the activities and for the concert by the Everclear.

“I had a moment to look over the crowd and I just smiled,” Hughes said.

Brian Hughes

That crowd on Kanawha Boulevard stretched from Capitol Street to Clendenin Street along the Kanawha River reminiscent of Regatta crowds in the 80s and 90s.

Hughes said it wasn’t bad for the opening night.

Goodwin said she’s hopeful the crowds will build through Monday with concerts that will include the Spinners, the Four Tops, Martina McBride, Rick Springfield and a July 4 performance by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Goodwin said one her goals when she took office four years ago was to return the Regatta to Charleston after a long absence. It was last held in 2009.

“When we were sitting in the mayor’s conference years ago (discussing the return)—and even through Covid when we were shut down. It was always our intention to bring back the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta,” Goodwin said Friday.

Amy Shuler Goodwin

She said it’s a full team effort from the city including police, fire, public works department and others. Goodwin gives a lot of credit to her assistant Jane Bostic for help putting it all together.

Hughes said there’s still a lot to accomplish through Monday. He said people can count on music during every hour of the Regatta whether it’s live performers or live deejay.

“We want the music to continue and the concerts we do in the evening. We’ll wrap up around 9:30 p.m. and after that you can still hang around and ride the rides,” Hughes said.

There are a few dozen sternwheel boats on the Kanawha River getting ready for a busy weekend that will include sternwheel races.

See weekend schedule here.

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