By Portia Williams
The 53rd annual Portsmouth River Days 2015 was ushered in with a melodious rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Portsmouth West Elementary School on Thursday. The numbers steadily increased as people came to partake in one the opening ceremony of the city’s most popular annual event.
Chip Mallet, of WIOI Radio, was master of ceremonies, opened the Portsmouth River Days with a very enthusiastic happy birthday greeting.
“Happy birthday, Portsmouth. We are celebrating 200 years of being a city. We are excited about River Days, and we are going to tie in the bicentennial throughout, and I hope you enjoy this big birthday party,” Mallet said.
Mallet next introduced Jim Milken a liaison and representative of John Husted, Secretary of the State Of Ohio, who read the certificate, and lauded the Portsmouth Rivers Days committee, and the city of Portsmouth for their commitment to host the annual festival.
“I am here this evening on behalf of the Secretary of State, John Husted with this commendation,” Milken said. “It is my privilege to recognize, and commend as you kick off the 2015 Portsmouth River Days,” Milken.
A portion of the words of the certificate that Milken read included the following:
“This certificate and commendation is tendered on behalf of the people of the state of Ohio as a token of their gratitude and sincere admiration in your efforts to bring the community together to enjoy good food and entertainment while highlighting local heritage,” Milken said. “Your unwavering adherence to the ongoing success of this festival is a testament to your focus and determination. On behalf of Ohio’s 53rd Secretary of State, it is my honor and unique distinction to recognize, commend you on the 2015 Portsmouth River Days. May your good and honorable work continue and stand as a measure for those who follow, in sparring them to believe in work the betterment, the lives of the people in communities throughout the state of Ohio. On behalf of the 53rd Ohio Secretary of State, John Husted.”
Dr. Timothy Angel, president and general chairman of the Portsmouth River Days committee, was called to the stage to receive the certificate from the Secretary of State.
A special surprise visit was made by a staff member of Secretary of the State of Ohio, John Husted’s office.
“We had an commendation from the Secretary of State, that was totally shocking, I didn’t know anything about it, and that was really nice,” Angel said. “The weather is supposed to be pretty good, we have a 20 percent chance of rain through the weekend, but nothing that we haven’t dealt with in the past. Hopefully the weather will hold out for us, and will be smooth sailing from here on out.
Angel said the River Days event is off to a great start.
“We are off to a great start for our fifty-third year. We have some exciting entertainment, some great attractions,” Angel said. “I am thrilled with some of the things that are going on right now, as far as the entertainment line up, and all of the queens, the contestants, the pageant.
He said the chorus from PWE did an excellent job in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.
“The children from Portsmouth West Elementary did a wonderful job with the opening ceremony, in doing the Star Spangled Banner, and will also perform again during Steve Free’s show today, so we are really pleased to have them,” Angel said.
Abigail Hazelbaker led the PWE chorus in the singing of The Star Spangled Banner. She is a fourth grader at PWE, and the daughter of Meleah and Craig, Hazelbaker. It was a lot of fun to take part in the opening ceremony for River Days.
Mike Newman, music director at PWE, said though it was their first time to sing at River Days, the group travels around frequently to many other venues.
“This is my 3oth year at Portsmouth West, and my 37th year of teaching all together,” Newman said. “This is the first time that we have performed at River Days. However, this group has performed at other functions around town, like the Portsmouth Wind Symphony, and other events at the Vern Riffe Center, and other places. These are the best kids that there are.”
Vendors were in place, preparing for the sell of great festival dishes, as well as a host of other items. Midway rides by Michael’s Amusements are positioned on Front Street this year, were ready to go.
The Portsmouth River Days schedule includes the following:
Friday, Sept. 4 kicks off the day’s events with midway and marketplace craft area on Front Street and the Court Street Landing all opening at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m. great fun for the kids – the Buckeye Sanctioned Kiddie Tractor Pull on Front Street. Southern Edge takes the stage to perform at 7:30 p.m. followed by Keith Anderson at 9 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 5. The festival, midway and marketplace craft area opens at 10 a.m., followed at 11 a.m. by the Ricer Equipment River Days Grand Parade featuring Ohio State University drum major David Pettit as the grand marshall.
At 6:30 p.m. it’s the Miss River Days Queen’s Pageant at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on the campus of Shawnee State University. At 7:30 p.m. Terry Hall and the Dave Morrison Band kick off the entertainment on the Riverfront stage and one of the best known acts in country music – Sawyer Brown at 9 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 6, the festival, midway and marketplace craft area opens at 10 a.m. with childrens’ activities in York Park fearuing a COSI Buckeye Mobile Tour from noon until 4 p.m.
The entertainment begins on the Riverfront stage at 6 p.m. as the band Flint kicks off the music followed by Teazer at 7:30 p.m. and local favorites – Doc Roc and the Remedies at 9 p.m. Finishing off the night’s festivities will be the River Days Fireworks Extravaganza at 10 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 7, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. there will be an Antique and Collector car Show in the Boneyfiddle district.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.