Musical lineup, jet ski races announced as part of River Days festivities


PORTSMOUTH—Friends of Portsmouth has announced the musical lineup for 2022’s River Days Festival (September 2-4), along with other exciting events sure to delight all who attend.

Bryan Smith, Executive Director of Friends of Portsmouth, said that the musical lineup offers selections that will have all attendees ready to dance no matter their musical preferences.

“We reached out to our local radio enthusiasts [at WNXT and WIOI] who threw some names out to us, and we were lucky to get some of those acts. They gave [Friends of Portsmouth’s entertainment committee] some recommendations, and it was really nice of them,” Smith said.

From country music legends to the hits of rock ‘n’ roll powerhouses, the musical lineup for this year’s River Days Festival is set to bring beloved tunes to the riverfront.

Friday, September 2, will feature musical sets from Bad Habits, a rock group comprised mostly of practicing optometrists who have opened for such classic rock acts as Lynrd Skynrd and Cheap Trick, and who have rocked the optometry convention circuit for the last 20 years.

Friday’s musical performances will also feature the stars of the Million Dollar Quartet, with special guest drummer, Kenny Arnoff. The Million Dollar Quartet, which features Scioto County native and self-taught piano prodigy Jacob Tolliver as Jerry Lee Lewis, is joined by Arnoff—a celebrated musician who has “contributed his talents to more than 60 Grammy® nominated recordings,” according to his website.

Saturday’s lineup features the musical talents of multi-Platinum recording artist and country music legend Neal McCoy. McCoy, a beloved fixture of the county music scene since the early 1990s, originally rocketed to fame with back-to-back number one singles, “No Doubt About It,” and “Wink.” Direct Energy will also take the stage on Saturday, bringing their reputation as central Ohio’s premier classic rock band to Portsmouth.

Expert fiddler and up-and-coming country music artist Chris Higbee will take the stage on Sunday, September 4th, along with McGuffey Lane—who will rock the riverfront with their long-beloved blend of country/rock music which has earned them a massive regional following.

In addition to the toe-tapping musical acts coming to the riverfront, jet ski racing will bring fast and furious action to River Days for the first time this year, with different racing classes competing throughout the day on September 3rd and 4th.

“It’s going to be some exciting stuff because it’s non-stop action the entire time they’re on the water,” said Smith. “A lot of times with boat races, there’s a delay. With jet ski racing, it’s just non-stop. It’s something action packed that we’ve never had here.”

USA Freestyle and Slalom Racing will offer cash prizes for each class of racing, and any jet ski enthusiast who wishes to compete can register through the company’s Facebook page: Racing classes include the Freestyle 800, 900, and 1500, as well as Slalom 701, 800, and Open. A “Duckie Derby” freeride will also be offered as part of the action. Each day, jet ski racing will begin around 11 a.m. and will conclude around 5 p.m.

With the musical lineup and jet ski racing as only part of the River Days festivities, Smith assures prospective attendees of the event that for the quality of entertainment, they can’t beat the price tag: despite false rumors of an admission cost for River Days programming, it is absolutely free to attend the concerts and jet ski racing.

“All admission is free for River Days, I want people to understand that,” Smith said. “There will be things of course that [attendees] will have to pay for, like awesome food trucks—I think right now we are sitting at around nineteen food trucks—and Southern Ohio Axe Throwing mobile unit will be there. Southern Ohio Jellyball—like paintball but with a non-toxic gel […] will be there. And we will have a lot of games and inflatables and specific rides for kids.”

For further updates to the expanding list of free River Days Festival programming, visit Friends of Portsmouth online at, or visit their Facebook page. Friends of Portsmouth can be reached via email at hello@friendsofportsmouth

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