Charleston Sternwheel Regatta to return in 2022

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 6, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After an absence of several years, a regatta will return to the Tri-State as Charleston, West Virginia Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin announced the return of the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta next Fourth of July.

She said the regatta means so much to so many and since she took office in 2019, she has had a lot of people asking about it.

“Since day one in office, I have had folks asking, pleading, for us to bring back the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta. Because of the overwhelming amount of feedback we received, it was a priority for us to bring back this famed Charleston event,” Goodwin said. “While it may not look exactly as it has in years past, we plan to incorporate many of the Regatta staples into next year’s event. This will allow us to carry on the legacy of Regatta while also adding new features and events.”

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Tim Brady, president and CEO of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau cited the “significant economic impact” of having thousands of people visiting Charleston for the event.

“Cash registers will be ringing throughout the city as visitors spend money on hotels, food, drinks and shopping,” he said. “It’s not an exaggeration to say the event will generate millions of dollars in tourism spending in Charleston.”

The boat group that helps bring the event is happy about its return as well.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity return to Charleston. It’s a very exciting time for us as we honor Regatta’s past, present and future and the sternwheelers that are so dedicated to our riverfront,” said Robin Jones, riverboat captain, member of the Sternwheel Association and previous member of the Sternwheel Regatta Committee. “My husband, Nelson Jones, was the original founder of Regatta in 1971. He would be very excited that Mayor Amy is bringing back this event.”

A full schedule will be announced in the coming months.

The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta began in 1971 after a 12-year-old boy suggested to the mayor that the city host a sternwheel race. At its height of popularity, the event grew into a 10-day event that attracted 20,000 people.

Among its most popular feature was getting to see bands for free. Some of the bands that played included Cheap Trick, the Beach Boys, Kansas, Charlie Daniels, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Alabama, Miami Sound Machine, Ray Charles, Puddle of Mud, Blues Traveler, both Jefferson Starship and Starship, Warrant, Quiet Riot, Blue Oyster Cult, Joan Jett and Meat Loaf.

The regatta was last held in 2009 due to financial difficulties.