WVPB Staff Published

Sternwheel Regatta Releases Summer Schedule

Sternwheel driven riverboats with a sunset behind them.
The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta returned to Charleston for the July 4 holiday in 2022.
Eric Douglas/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta released its full 2023 schedule on Tuesday. The event will run from June 30 to July 4.

“Our Charleston Sternwheel Regatta team has put together a robust schedule featuring nostalgic favorites and fresh newcomers – including the Slack Plaza Slamboree, the All Fired Up Youth BBQ Challenge and a stunt exhibition by BMX professional Zach Newman,” Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said. 

Highlights for the festival include two nights of fireworks. The first will be on opening night following the band Better Than Ezra and then again on July 4. Wiener Dog Races take place July 1 on Magic Island. Later that day, the Slack Plaza Slamboree will hold the first Charleston Sternwheel Regatta Championship wrestling match. The Great Rubber Duck Race returns July 2 just prior to the Sternwheeler Races.

Denise Norris, children’s librarian at the Charleston Main Branch of the Kanawha County Public Library, said the organization will be involved again this year. 

“The Main Library will host a Summer Library Club Super Saturday event July 1 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Capitol Street. In addition to signing up for summer reading with KCPL – free and open to all ages – community members may enjoy performances by West Virginia Symphony Orchestra musicians and WV Youth Symphony groups, participate in an instrument petting zoo, and play games and complete STEM projects. It’s another fun day of reading and learning at the library.”

The entertainment lineup was released previously and includes Better Than Ezra, June 30; Flo Rida, July 1; Kool & the Gang, July 2; and Jo Dee Messina, July 3.

Terry Godbey, owner of Charleston eatery Hot Diggity Dogs and organizer of the Regatta’s Classic Car Show, spoke about bringing the event back this year.

“As organizers, we’ve streamlined our internal processes to make registration easier, and with the move to Summers Street we’re expecting an even better turnout than last year,” Godbey said.

Scheduled for July 2, the show has space for 125 cars and will relocate to Summers Street and Slack Plaza. 

The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta began as two days of boat races in 1971 and quickly grew to a week-long end-of-summer festival with major entertainment. But conflicts over beer sales and other issues forced the cancellation of the event in 2009. The regatta returned in 2022. 

The full 2023 Charleston Sternwheel Regatta schedule is available on the official charlestonregatta.com website.