Albert Gallatin Regatta returns grander than ever for its 45th year

Established in 1979, the Albert Gallatin Regatta has been a feature event for the community of Point Marion and surrounding areas for nearly five decades. Although it had dwindled from its former glory, a new cast of community volunteers set forth to spark a revival last year. This Saturday and Sunday, the 2024 regatta is gearing up to be better than ever for the event’s 45th anniversary, and Point Marion Park invites visitors from near and far to take part in the festivities.

When Riverfront Park Associates Secretary/Treasurer Wendy Cottrell began volunteering with the nonprofit a couple of years ago, she vowed to restore life to the regatta and bring back what she and other volunteers fondly remember from their childhoods. The first step? Semi-trucks full of powerboats.

Powerboats were previously a highlight of the event, drawing crowds of locals and out-of-towners alike to watch the watercraft, but the boats’ participation dwindled in recent years. Last year, the reintroduction began with a race of six powerboats. This Saturday and Sunday, upwards of 50 powerboats will grace the waters of the Monongahela River from noon-4 p.m. each day. Friday evening offered a powerboat public meet-and-greet during regatta set-up to allow spectators to see the boats up-close.

“The regatta is back in full force,” said Cottrell. “We’re hoping to get crowds from miles and miles away to just have a fun day with the family.”

The powerboat show isn’t the only aspect that’s new and expanding — the entire regatta is undergoing a metamorphosis. 

A memorial service at Little Arlington Cemetery and a wreath-laying on Point Marion will commence the Memorial Day weekend observance, followed by a parade aiming to be even grander than the previous year’s, which spanned 40 minutes. Activities like pageants, church services, a fishing derby, car show, basketball tournament, 5K race and around 48 craft vendors will fill the area. A lineup of live musical performers will grace the park’s stage throughout both days, with D.J. Red Zippline, Badd Habitt, Barry & Pam, and Daddy Long Legs showcasing a range of musical acts.

Between activities, attendees will have a selection of 17 food vendors in addition to park concessions with options ranging from carnival favorites like hot dogs, nachos and kettle corn to bubble tea, deep fried pies, gyros and more.

Offering a variety of entertainment for visitors of all ages and interests is a core commitment of Riverfront Park Associates, part of their efforts to ensure they have something for each and every one of their residents, as well as visitors from far and wide, to enjoy together.

“When we took over, our mission was to unite our community and also unite our community with surrounding communities through events,” said Cottrell. “To have something to do that’s affordable and that families can enjoy, that’s what we strive to do.”

Last year, the regatta saw about 4,000 attendees over the two-day event, nearly half of the 10,000 visitor turnout of the 1980s. With each passing year, Riverfront Park Associates hope to return the regatta to its former glory. Looking ahead to next year, the carnival is just one area of the regatta expected to expand at the 46th Albert Gallatin Regatta. 

“We’re trying to put ourselves back on the map and get the word out that we’re back and we’re stronger than ever,” said Cottrell.

Entry to the regatta is free, with additional costs for some activities and amenities. 

“We truly have something for everybody,” said Cottrell. “Sit and just relax for the day, enjoy the powerboat races or sit and listen to the bands.”

For more information, visit RiverfrontParkAssociates.org. The nonprofit relies on sponsors and community support to continue uplifting the park with events like the regatta, and donations can be made on their website.

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