The first of what is expected to be an annual Kentucky River Blast festival was a success, according to Frankfort/Franklin County Tourism Director Joy Jeffries.
Jeffries said that an initial count shows that about 3,000 people attended the river blast Saturday, with crowds gradually growing until the laser light show at 10 p.m.
“The food vendors did extremely well,” Jeffries said. “And our beer garden did well.”
Popular attractions at the festival included live music, arts and crafts booths and boat tours on the Kentucky State University River Thorobred.
She said the tourism office will not have an official number about how much money was raised by the event for the Riverside Children’s Play Park. The numbers will be available after the cost of the event is subtracted from the money made.
The first event was not without some setbacks, however. Inclement weather had a negative impact on the river portion of the river blast, with storms Friday night and early Saturday preventing about 50 Ohio boaters who had reserved rooms at the Capital Plaza Hotel from coming up river the day before.
Jeffries said many of the boaters did come for the festival later on Saturday, but their presence was delayed.
The rains also increased the current of the river, causing Canoe Kentucky to cancel the paddle races planned for Saturday morning — the only planned event of the festival to be cancelled.
Additionally, Jeffries said tourism staff will need to look into how to better produce the laser light show or what alternatives to switch to after a lackluster performance.
“If you were right on a certain spot the light show was amazing, Jeffries said. “People on the river couldn’t see it though.”
She said that the problem was that light shows are typically used at indoor venues, making a successful outdoor lightshow a challenge.
“We’re brainstorming about what to do,” she said. “I don’t want just a third of the people to get a good show, I want everyone to have a good show.”
Keeping up the momentum
However, Jeffries said her primary goal with the river blast was achieved.
“The main thing we wanted to accomplish was to get the river open, get the locks open and bring people down the river to Frankfort,” she said. “This will be a huge benefit to Frankfort.”
She said that working with boaters has opened up some new opportunities for the area that will not only take place once a year. The first is a deal with Rockin Thunder for jet boat rides between Frankfort and Madison, Indiana.
She added that Kentucky State University officials, working with Canoe Kentucky, have made plans for further history and science excursions on the River Thorobred.