Riverfest, held in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, is one of the largest displays of fireworks in the nation. Philadelphia may have the largest Fourth of July celebration, but Cincinnati steals the show on Labor Day weekend. Riverfest is held every Labor Day along the banks of the Ohio River. Locals and visitors pack into the downtown area for one last celebration before fall officially arrives. The winters are cold in Cincinnati. Riverfest is celebrated as a last hoorah before the cold weather and long nights set in. The city says goodbye to summer with a bang and does it in grand style.
Over 500, 000 people attend Riverfest annually, crowding into boats, apartments, and basically any open space they can find along the river to view the spectacular fireworks show. Apartments and condos line the Ohio River and those lucky enough to live there are the envy of all their friends. Parties can be seen on almost every balcony and through every window.
The fireworks show is the grand finale of Riverfest. It is held on the Sunday night before Labor Day and usually begins about 9:05pm. Fireworks are shot off of the bridge spanning the Ohio River. The fireworks are impressive and it is hard to find a bad seat. Boats crowd the Ohio River for miles along both side of the bridge with barely any water visible between them. Many arrive as early as a week before Riverfest to reserve their spot.
Locals have their own secret spots for viewing the Riverfest fireworks show. Mt. Echo Park offers a great view of the Ohio River Valley. The park is known for its viewing area that offers a great vantage point of the Riverfest fireworks, with a little less of the crowd that can be found downtown. This is a favorite spot among locals, so you will still need to arrive early. Picnic areas make this an ideal spot to camp out and grill out while you wait for the fireworks.
Alms Park, while less known than Mt. Echo Park for its view of the fireworks, provides an equally magnificent view of the Ohio River Valley. Grilling and picnic areas are few in number here, but open green lawns provide the perfect place to lay out a blanket, enjoy a picnic supper, and take in the fireworks. Parking is ample, but visitors should still plan to arrive early to save the best areas for viewing.
The city of Cincinnati encourages people planning to attend Riverfest to use public transportation or plan to arrive early to claim a parking space. Other events are held during Riverfest, which can put a strain on parking in the city. Public Streets south of Seventh Street are closed after 1:30pm on Sunday to accommodate the other activities.
Traditionally the Cincinnati Reds have an afternoon game the day before Labor Day. Great American Ballpark holds 30,000 fans. You can bet most of these fans will be staying for the fireworks. Local radio stations broadcast from Riverfest and two stages are set up for live music on the downtown streets. Carnival games are set in the streets and provide plenty of family fun while you wait for the fireworks.
Local restaurants span the river and provide delicious foods and a chance to sample some Cincinnati favorites, like Montgomery Inn ribs. If you are lucky enough to get a table on the patio of one of these restaurants, do anything you can to keep it! Vendors line the streets offering local foods that proudly display the German heritage of Cincinnati. Metwursts and bratwursts abound, but try looking for the more allusive fried pickles and goetta, a patty made of ground onion, sausage and oatmeal. Both are delicious and worth the hunt.