Family fun, music, fireworks draw crowds on the banks of the Ohio –
Story and photos by Patricia Beech –
Rain turned to sunshine for the 2017 River Days Festival held last week in Manchester.
The festival kicked off Thursday evening with the crowning of the River Days Queen and her court. Kiersten Saunders, a freshman at Manchester High School, was crowned Queen of the festival, Alyssa Hoskins was First Runner-Up, and Savanna Sheridan was named Second Runner-Up.
Judges for the Queen’s pageant were Makayla Crawford, McKayla Smith, and Caitlin Young.
“This is special because it’s my hometown,” said Saunders. “I love competing in these contests because it builds my confidence when I get a win.”
Saunders, who frequently performs with the Maysville Players theater troupe, says she plans to begin college in the fall as a post-secondary student studying acting and pre-law. She is the daughter of Jessika and Kris Saunders.
The pageantry continued Friday with the crowning of the River Days Little Miss, five-year old Preslee Miller, and the River Days Little Mister, six-year old Bentley Zinn.
Joann Hildebrand, who spearheaded the committee responsible for organizing the festival, said her goal was to provide a wide variety of activities for festival goers to enjoy.
“Everything seemed to go smoothly,” she said. “Everyone seemed to have a good time, and we were very pleased to see the people come out and support the festival.”
The decades-old festival, once the largest in Adams County, has struggled in recent years to draw crowds. Hilderbrand and her festival committee members say they hope to reverse that trend.
“I have a good group of people working with me,” she said. “Our goal is to build the festival back up and get it going again.”
Festival-goers were treated to several musical performances headlined by Kalysta Minton who recently signed a Nashville recording contract. Local gospel and country bands also performed throughout the weekend.
Kids attending the three-day event had the opportunity to participate in a variety of games, contests, and fun activities from bubble gum blowing, to watermelon eating, and fishing contests. For adults, there was the always popular Duck Derby Race, a Quarter Auction and Cornhole Tournament, and a Bake Sale that raised nearly $400.
River Days Saturday featured a day-long car show as well as a 5K race and the always popular Toilet Bowl Race down the village’s Main Street, which came after the River Days Parade.
The festival concluded with residents gathering to watch the grand finale fireworks display in Riverfront Park.