Looking around Marietta, whether it's downtown or on the outskirts, there are many things that make the town unique for residents and visitors alike.
In March, Marietta placed sixth on Smithsonian Magazine's "The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014" and whether it's something on the rivers or in a museum, there are many attractions to draw people out.
For those looking to get their river fix, there are certain times of years that are better to venture to the shores of the Ohio, namely during late summer and toward fall.
Times file photo
Many old-time sternwheelers line Marietta’s Ohio River bank in September for the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival.
AMANDA NICHOLSON The Marietta Times
Corey Rutter and George Litman practice their lines for the upcoming play, “The History of America, Abridged,” at the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre.
The play will debut in June.
Each year in September, sternwheelers line the banks of the Ohio River, from the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers down toward the Williamstown Bridge, fireworks light up the Saturday night sky and music serenades Ohio River Sternwheel Festival goers.
Around 100,000 people turn out for the event, many from out of town, said Carol Vroom, general director of this year's festival.
"I think the majority of people down (by the river) are coming from out of town," she said.
Ohio River Sternwheel Festival.
Earthworks like the mounds in Mound Cemetery and Sacra Via.
An emerging entertainment district with the Colony and Mid-Ohio Valley Players theaters.
Historic downtown with family-owned shops.
Vroom said the draw of the festival is the idea of a simpler time.
"I think a lot of it is the old time, sitting on the river bank," she said. "It takes you back to a quieter and more peaceful time. You can sit and listen to music all day. A lot of the appeal is because it hearkens you back to a quieter, easier time."
Each year, the weekend after the Fourth of July the Riverfront Roar brings speedboat racers from all over. The boats draw a crowd of adrenaline junkies who like to watch water racing.
Marietta also has its share of musical fests, centered around blues music, like the Red, White and Blues Fest.
Jean G. Farmer, director of Main Street Marietta, said the festival is entering its 20th year.
"What's cool is some people have been doing this for 19 years," Farmer said, but added, "We found some new blood; we've got a newer, younger vibe this year."
She said there is one new trend the festival will capitalize on.
"The big trend is craft beer," she said. "The Marietta Brewing Company...is bringing in craft brew, and two hip, young groups are coming. It's going to be a great time."
The fest will be a place for some of the younger crowd to kick back, said Farmer.
"I'm imagining a younger crowd loving us," she said. "It's 'I've spent the whole day with my family, now I can go out and chill out with the blues fest.'"
Marietta is also host to the Sweet Corn Festival in July; the seventh annual will be this year in Muskingum Park. About 4,000 ears of corn are sold to festival goers, some as early as 10 a.m.
A new festival that is hitting Marietta in the upcoming weeks is the Marietta Craft Brew and BBQ Festival. It will take place June 12-14 at the Washington County Fairgrounds and will feature craft beer and barbecue made by six local chefs.
One new thing that is looking to be a big draw for downtown Marietta is an emerging entertainment district around Putnam Street.
The Peoples Bank Theatre, formerly the Colony Theatre, has been undergoing renovations, consisting of planning, fundraising and initial renovations, but the building is still mostly bare bones, where onlookers can see the original brick work and partially missing tile floor.
The theater, though not fully renovated, was host to music during the first Merchants and Artists Walk of the year, and Hunt Brawley, developmental director for the Hippodrome/Colony Historical Theatre Association, said it's the goal to have a thriving entertainment district, where people can go watch plays and listen to music in downtown Marietta.
Another theater, the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre, is going strong with performances, even having a new play opening up in a few weeks.
Director Kevin Paskawych said the play was characterized as intellectual vaudeville when it opened.
"(The cast members) play themselves," he said. "The basis of the show is that you come to see these people talk to you abut American history...it's very satirical and very goofy."
Debbie Lawson, marketing director for the theater, said that community theater is huge for Marietta.
"With community theater, there is the intention here that anybody can come and anybody can audition," she said. "There are no small roles, only small people."
Marietta is also full of attractions that tell the history of the town and what truly makes Marietta unique.
A giant conus mound towers above the graves in Mound Cemetery, and Sacra Via is host to solstice celebrations that mark the sun's path across the sky, tributes to ancient people who have long since passed.
The Castle lies at 418 Fourth St., a reminder of Gothic Revival style architecture, and life back in the late 1800s.
The Campus Martius Museum sits at the corners of Washington and Second streets, the Ohio River Museum on Front Street near the Muskingum River, both housing ancient artifacts from the times of Indians and when Ohio wasn't even a state.
Glenna Hoff, education and program director for Campus Martius, said the museums are significant beyond Marietta's history.
"I think we're also one of the best kept secrets in the state," she said.
Farmer said one way to reconnect with Marietta could be through a Merchants and Artist Walk through Marietta's historic downtown.
"Rediscover your hometown," Farmer said.