New events planned
for this year’s festival
Cutie Pie Contest, golf scramble
add to variety of activities
After suffering through two difficult years, the Madison Regatta Committee is returning this year with a vengeance in hopes new events and better weather will put the festival and race weekend back on solid footing.
Two years ago, a heat index reaching 115 degrees affected attendance. Last year, rain and high water forced the cancellation of boat racing on the Ohio River altogether. So the all-volunteer Regatta Committee is hoping for a complete turnaround this year, both in attendance and profits.
“It has definitely been a challenge for us to get things back on track, but we have been working very hard and we have a very committed group of people. So we hope that with some new events and enthusiasm, people will come out this year and support the festival,” said first-time Regatta President Tim Torrence, 54.
“We have moved some events around, cancelled others and changed events to be more fan friendly. Sometimes, if you keep doing the same thing over and over, you can get stale and get into a comfort zone. So with these new events and changes, I hope we can start to build on a different legacy with the festival.”
Kim Washer is serving as the Regatta Festival Chair this year, and she has been working with new organizations to create some of those new events for the festival, which runs the entire last week of June, beginning Saturday, June 28.
Among the new events is a Cutie Pie baby contest on Sunday. Entrants in various age categories from age birth to 4 years old for boys and girls will be judged. Registration begins at 2 p.m. (weather permitting) at Madison Bicentennial Park. The entry fee is $10. Entry forms are available at the Regatta office or online at www.MadisonRegatta.com.
“It has definitely been a challenge to get things back on track.”
– Madison Regatta President Tim Torrence
The Madison Parks Department is sponsoring a Rubber Duck Regatta at 6 p.m. Monday, with free swimming afterward until 9 p.m. at Crystal Beach Swimming Pool.
He also anticipates fan interest in coming to see how the Oberto-Miss Madison’s newly hired driver Jimmy Shane will do in the cockpit after replacing longtime driver Steve David, who retired after last season.
Other events have been re-arranged or modified or cancelled. The scholarship pageant has been cancelled with the death last winter of organizer Linda Ralston of the Xi Beta Upsilon chapter of Beta Sigma Phi sorority. The Regatta Committee also cancelled its Little Miss, Pre-Teen and Teen pageants since last year’s Regatta Court was not able to preside over the festivities with the race cancellation. That court, including Regatta Queen Hayley Franklin of Carrollton, Ky., will return to preside over this year’s festivities. The Regatta plans to revive its three pageants for the younger girls, but it is not certain whether the sorority will revive its pageant next year, Washer said.
The annual Firemen’s Waterball Fight on Main Street has been moved from Wednesday night to Tuesday night, beginning at 5:30. The bed race and Madison Area Chamber of Commerce V.I.P. After Hours event have been cancelled. Instead, the Regatta Committee is planning a Media Breakfast at 7 a.m. Friday in hopes it will attract more Unlimited hydroplane drivers and owners and media representatives.
“In the past, we have had trouble getting drivers and owners to the Thursday afternoon Chamber event because many of them were not yet in town,” Torrence said.
On Thursday, the Madison Regatta Golf Scramble will be held at Belterra Casino Resort in Florence, Ind. This new event will offer golf to four-person teams at $75 per person if registered by July 29, and $100 per person thereafter. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at noon. Call the Regatta office at (812) 274-0400 for information.
Last year, the Regatta Committee took control of the Friday night parade after longtime parade chairs Merle Horton and Dottie Burress retired. Burress died in May. The two women had organized the parade for 42 years.
Washer is now in charge and she has a full field ready to step off at 7 p.m. Friday. When the Regatta Committee took over the parade last year they changed the starting time from 6:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. to avoid some of the afternoon heat for patrons. They also shortened the parade by limiting and upgrading the quality of entries, Torrence said.
“We had a lot of complaints that the parade was too long, but last year we had positive feedback after shortening it and moving it to a later time,” he said. “That also gave people and the boat teams more time to get ready.”
Parade floats will be on display at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Ivy Tech Community College parking lot where visitors can vote for their favorite float. Trophies will be presented at the Judge’s Stand during Friday’s parade.
In addition to the very popular Regatta Parade, other staples of the annual festival will return, including the Brett Hunter Aerobatics Air Show on Saturday and Sunday, the Madison Courier 10K Walk and Run on Saturday morning, the Remote Control Hydroplane Boat races Friday at Jefferson Proving Ground’s Kruger Lake, and the biggest festival event of all – the Saturday night fireworks show by the Zambelli family of New Castle, Pa.
As late as May, the Regatta Committee was still short $5,000 of the $22,000 needed to hire the Zambellis. But in June, the Jefferson County Board of Tourism contributed the $5,000, becoming co-sponsors with the American Legion Post 9 and the City of Madison.
The Zambelli family, which also does the largest fireworks show in North America each year at Thunder Over Louisville, has been doing the Regatta Fireworks Show for more than 20 years. “They do a great job, and we always get more than we pay for,” Washer said.
Local dentist Dr. Bob Canida is organizing a Beach Volleyball competition on Saturday, July 5, on the riverfront at the corner of Vernon Street and Vaughn Drive. For information, call (812) 265-4766.
Local musician Jimmy Davis and Brent Thacker organized the bands that will play on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Firemen’s Park. A $5 Regatta souvenir button will be required for entry to the riverfront Wednesday through Friday nights, but Saturday night’s music and 10 p.m. fireworks show will be free.
The race schedule also has been modified to a two-day lineup to feature boat racing on Saturday and Sunday only, Torrence said. The boats will be on display Thursday and Friday, and the public will be allowed to stroll the pits with only a $5 Regatta button as admission. Eight Unlimited hydroplanes are expected to participate in Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race card. The weekend also will be highlighted by teenaged drivers piloting J-Stock mini hydros and exhibition runs by the vintage Miss U.S. Unlimited hydroplane.
“We have always heard complaints that there is not enough action on the river on Sunday, so our goal this year is to tighten the schedule and reduce the dead time on the water,” Torrence said. “With these changes, we hope to put on the best show possible for the fans.”
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