Let the Party Begin

Madison’s biggest festival week
offers a variety of family fun

New events include
P1 boats, country music concerts


(July 2011)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

The all-volunteer Madison Regatta Inc. is expecting a hugely successful 61st year of staging Madison’s largest festival and the popular H1 Unlimited Hydroplane boat racing series July 1-3 on the Ohio River.
Fourth-year President Crystal McHargue says hard work and commitment by the festival sponsors and the series’ commissioner, Sam Cole, has produced one of the most action-packed programs in recent memory. Fans will be treated to watching 12 Unlimited hydroplanes race on a much shorter course, due to the Milton-Madison Bridge construction taking place this year.
The previously 2.5-mile course will now be only 1 2/3 mile long, which will certainly challenge drivers to devise new strategies for mastering the river and avoiding collisions.
“The drivers have joked that they will be scratching the paint on their boats because they will be racing so close,” McHargue said.

2011 Madison Regatta Logo

The eastern-most turn of the new course will be in front of St. Michael’s Street. The western-most turn will be in front of Plum and Vine streets.
Meantime, the committee is bringing in the Powerboat P1 USA race boats to entertain the crowd in between the Unlimiteds.
“These boats are very exciting. They have open cockpits and, yes, they do turn right,” joked McHargue. “We have always tried to find something to keep the action going on the river at all times, and these boats should help us do that this year. They are exciting to watch, and for them, the rougher the water the better.”
Entertainment-wise, this year’s H1 Unlimited series is being sponsored by Air National Guard, which has also provided funding to produce a large country music concert on a big stage Friday night, July 1. Country singers Paul Overstreet and Jon Randall Stewart will take turns entertaining the Regatta crowd at the riverfront. They will be preceded on stage by country music singers Lee Roy Parnell and Presley Tucker, daughter of country music legend Tanya Tucker. Parnell is a chart-topping singer with songs like “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I am?” and “Tender Moment.”
Music will fill the air on other nights, with a full slate of bands organized by Regatta entertainment committee chairman Brent Thacker.

Steve David

Photo by Joe Saba/RoundAbout

Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison
driver Steve David (bottom left)
signs autographs for hydroplane
racing fans during last year’s Madison
Regatta. David won the race for
the hometown fans and went on
to capture the serie’s National
High Points title.

The band schedule features many local bands and is highlighted by Cincinnati-based “Walk the Moon” at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, just prior to the free fireworks show sponsored by American Legion Post 9. Another band, The Illusion, will take the stage after the fireworks, which are scheduled to go off at dusk, about 9 p.m.
“I’m really excited about bringing in Walk the Moon,” Thacker said. “This group has appeared on the Carson Daly Show and has been headlining all over the country and is on a big rise to fame. We are lucky that they are donating their time to come down from Ohio and perform for us.”
In fact music is scheduled Thursday, Friday and Saturday, beginning with the Battle of the Bands contest Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Then “The Wheel” will perform from 10:30 p.m. to midnight. Music livens up the stage from 5 p.m. to midnight Friday with the Texaco Country Showdown, followed by a performance by J.D. Shelburne. Saturday’s music slate begins at 1 p.m. until midnight (See complete music schedule, Page X).
But there’s more. A new Regatta Kickoff Party, featuring live bands from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday, June 26, has been added to the schedule. The event is free and people will be allowed to come in with their own coolers and chairs and enjoy the show, which will feature inflatables for children and many giveaways, Thacker said.
Another new Regatta sponsor, Bulldog Marketing, will provide free giveaways and a show boat display. “They are very fan friendly,” McHargue said. “And we are also proud to have Oberto sticking with us as a major sponsor.”
Meantime, the committee will honor all past and the present Miss Madison boat drivers as grand marshals in the Regatta Parade on Friday evening down Main Street. Charlie Grooms of the Miss Madison Racing Team came up with the idea to honor the living drivers. A special 50th Anniversary Party for the race team is also planned at Grooms’ Boneyard Grill restaurant on the Madison hilltop on Thursday evening, June 30. The free, second annual Boneyard Bash will feature the drivers and entertainment by the Bob Laffery Trio from 6-8 p.m. and The Rumors band from 8:45 p.m. to midnight.
McHargue said admission wristband sales have been strong, while RV parking spots are sold out. “We only have about 50 VIP wristbands left (as of June 22), so we are very happy with the response.”
McHargue said with good weather and river conditions, all signs are positive to providing a fun, action-packed festival for the fans. “We have worked hard to give the fans a great Regatta this year,” she said.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: info@RoundAbout.bz.


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