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    St. Clair Riverfest combines boats, music, carnival, more
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    Extremely loud and incredibly close.

    That describes nearly every aspect of the 11th annual St. Clair Riverfest -- the 22nd running of the St. Clair River Classic offshore boat race on Sunday, July 31; ten rock-and-roll bands over two nights, headlined on Friday, July 29 by Fuel and on Saturday, July 30 by Dokken; a carnival; Race Village and the Avenue of Vending.

    Funfest, Inc. produces all land-based events and the Blue Water Offshore Racing Association produces the boat races.

    It all takes place on the beautifully blue St. Clair River. Three dozen of offshore boats will be on display in what organizers dub "race village" along North Riverside Avenue, also known as M-29, which will be closed to traffic during Riverfest. Joining the race teams on North Riverside will be the pulsing Avenue of Vending featuring novelties, race paraphernalia and plenty of carnival culinary treats, including beer and wine.

    "It's full," said Joe Neiporte, co-owner of Funfest. "It's going to look good. Vendors will be selling all kinds of food, sunglasses, glow toys, t-shirts, everything."

    A portion of all beverage sales supports local charities, Neiporte said.

    Family Fun Tyme Amusements of Galesburg, MI is providing the carnival midway.

    "Same as last year," said Neiporte.

    Palmer Park, which hugs the river, offers prime viewing for the boat races, with test runs on Saturday, July 30, with the finals on Sunday, July 31.

    "We usually draw around 100,000 people over the weekend," said Neiporte. "If the weather is good, I anticipate 100,000 again."


    Five bands will perform on the Malcolm Marine barge, specially outfitted with towers of speakers, each night. The Donny Rod Show gets things rolling on Friday night, playing the barge 5-5:45 p.m. Ulterior Motive performs 6:15-7 p.m. The Tommy Marz Band alights on the barge 7:30-8:15 p.m. Los Gringos plays 8:45-9:30 p.m. Friday's headliners, Fuel, best known for their single "Shimmer" in the late 1990s, followed by "Innocent" and "Hemorrhage (in My Hands)" from their second album, ignite the stage, 10:15-11:30 p.m.

    On Saturday, on the heels of the first of race trials, Kings in Pieces plays 5-5:45 p.m. The Revivors revitalize the musical spirit 6:15-7 p.m. Slander performs 7:30-8:15 p.m. St. Clair alt rockers The Gobies play 8:45-9:30 p.m. Saturday's headliners, Bokken, fronted by vocalist Don Bokken, will wrap things up, 10:15-11:30 p.m.

    "Classic rock always works well in St. Clair," said Neiporte.

    Fuel was charting 10-15 years ago and Bokken was big in the 1980s, Neiporte said.

    All concerts are free, but VIP tickets are available each night for $25 per person. Visit, where daily carnival passes may also be purchased for $15 per day.

    Offshore racing

    The race teams and their deep-throated race boats begin arriving Friday and setting up their rigs and merchandise tables in the dry pits along North Riverside Avenue.

    "We're looking at about the same number of boats we had last year, 34-38 boats," said Tom Currier, the treasurer and secretary of Blue Water Offshore Racing, Inc., which produces the race. "It should be one of the best boat counts of any race this year."

    Saturday is devoted to technical issues and test runs, which take place on the big river during the afternoon.

    "The boats will test-run under race conditions on Saturday, 12:30-3:30 p.m.," said Currier.

    The wet pits are located in the Pine River west of the drawbridge, where a crane will be hauling the race boats in and out of the water all day Saturday and Sunday.

    The race teams will sign autographs for fans, 5-7 p.m. on Saturday.

    The St. Clair River Classic is the fourth Offshore Powerboat Association event of the year, following Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, May 22; Lake Ozark, Missouri, June 4; and Atlantic City, New Jersey, June 19.

    "We're running a four-mile oval course, starting at the south end, below Cargill Salt," said Currier. "The boats race up the boardwalk side of the course to north of the St. Clair Inn, where Turns 1 and 2 are located, then down the Canadian shoreline to Turns 3 and 4."

    The start-finish line is opposite the boardwalk, just north of the Voyageur.

    "Spectators will be able to see the whole course from the boardwalk," said Currier.

    St. Clair racer Ed Smith has been racing in Super Boat International events this year, a complementary series to the Offshore Powerboat Association, which sanctions the St. Clair and Port Huron races.

    But Smith plans to drive the Cleveland Construction #4 boat in St. Clair as well as driving the Cat-Can-Du boat next to throttleman Keith Holmes.

    Organizers are planning for as many as four races on Sunday, July 31 on the St. Clair River, at noon, 1:30, 3 and 4:30 p.m.

    "We'll do our best to start the first race around noon," said Currier. "We'll run at least three races and we have permit time for a fourth, depending on the number and class of boats we have. We always share the river with commercial traffic and won't race with a freighter on the course. But the commercial shippers have been extremely cooperative with us."

    The awards ceremony takes place in Plaza Park at 7 p.m. or, in the event of rain, in the bowling alley of the Voyageur.

    Two weeks later, the action moves upriver for the Port Huron-Sarnia International Power Boat Race, Aug. 12-14. The season continues with races at Fall River, Massachusetts; Aug. 28, Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, Sept. 25; and Ocean City, Maryland, Oct. 9 before wrapping up at the world championships at Englewood Beach, Florida, Nov. 19-20.
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    My personal thoughts are the race boats should still race with the freighters going by, just like the old days, as it is a racing obstical, which shows how a true racer / racers can control and handle their vessel (just like the old days when racers were the tough guys and gals out there)
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    Founding Member / Super Moderator Ratickle's Avatar
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    The Coast Guard won't let them do that anymore because of safety.

    I've gone off of their waves in practice though. In a race that would make for some really good pictures!!!!!
    Getting bad advice is unfortunate, taking bad advice is a Serious matter!!
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    The 10th Annual St. Clair Riverfest in downtown St. Clair runs in conjunction with the St. Clair River Classic Offshore Powerboat Races from July 23 to July 26.

    There will be performances by Starship, Detroit band Sponge and Candlebox along plus a full carnival with more than 20 rides. Admission to festival and concerts is free and half-off ride wristbands are available on Thursday.

    The four-day fun summer festival is along the banks of the St. Clair River in Palmer Park in downtown St. Clair.

    The St. Clair Riverfest, sponsored by Meijer, runs in conjunction with the St. Clair River Classic Offshore Powerboat Race, combining offshore racing with live music by national recording artists.

    Starship performs with special guest Sponge on Friday, July 24, and Candlebox performs July 25. Local and regional musicians perform on Friday and Saturday night. Music starts at 5 p.m. each night.

    Enjoy the full carnival. The St. Clair Riverfest, produced by Funfest Productions, has grown into the largest event in St. Clair County drawing more than 100,000 visitors annually.

    A highlight of the weekend will be the St. Clair River Classic Offshore Boat Race at noon Sunday, July 26, a tradition in Southeast Michigan for 21 years. This display of power on the water is produced by the Bluewater Offshore Racing Association of St. Clair, Mich. In 2006, BWORA partnered with Funfest Productions to create the St. Clair Riverfest.

    Hours for the St. Clair Riverfest are:
    • 5-11 p.m. Thursday, July 23: (Family Fun Day; carnival wristbands are half off)
    • 4 p.m.-Midnight Friday, July 24
    • Noon-Midnight Saturday, July 25:
    • Sunday, July 26: Noon-8 p.m.

    Admission to the festivals and concerts is free. For a full lineup of musical acts, show times, directions and parking information, visit For a schedule of the St. Clair River Classic Offshore Boat Race, visit
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