9 things to know before you go to Riverfest 2017

In Cincinnati, Labor Day weekend is synonymous with Riverfest, an all-day party of 500,000 people at Sawyer Point and Yeatman's Cove that culminates with Rozzi’s fireworks set to a WEBN soundtrack.

This will be the 40th year for the fireworks display, and many people have been watching them since the beginning.

Whether you’ve been going to Riverfest since you were a kid, or this is your first time, here are nine things to know for this year’s celebration and the Western & Southern / WEBN Fireworks.

When and where

Riverfest runs noon-10 p.m. Sunday at Sawyer Point Park and Yeatman's Cove. The Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks will start at 9:05 p.m. Sunday. (Of course, if you're interested only in seeing the fireworks, you can see them from the Kentucky side of the river, too.)

Related: Eateries, bars offer great views of fireworks

There’s entertainment all day

WEBN will broadcast live from the Serpentine Wall starting at noon Sunday. (You can stream WEBN via the iHeartRadio app or bring a portable radio.) The Kroger Activity Zone will feature family fun and activities, special guests, free fans, fleece blankets for adults and beach balls for children.

Kroger Activity Zone:

  • Noon-2 p.m.: The UC Bearcat and Ben-Gals
  • 1-3 p.m.: Rosie Red and Mr. Redlegs
  • 2-4 p.m.: Jim Scott meet and greet
  • 2-3 p.m.: Xavier University
  • 3:30-4:30 p.m.: Who Dey from the Bengals
  • 4-6 p.m.: TBA
  • 6-8 p.m.: FC Cincinnati players

There also will be live music by local and national performers as part of the KISS 107.1 FM "Just Show Up" free concert series throughout the day:

  • Judah & The Lion
  • Hey Violet
  • AJR
  • Skylar Stecker
  • Spencer Sutherland

What’s up with the ducks?

The Rubber Duck Regatta is the Freestore Foodbank’s quacky ... er ... wacky annual tradition. Thousands of rubber ducks will be dropped into the Ohio River near the Serpentine Wall to race at 3 p.m. Sunday. The owner of the first-place duck will win a 2017 Honda HR-V LX Sedan. If the winner is also the “KEMBA Million Dollar Duck,” its owner also will win $1 million. The second-prize winner will get $100 from Kroger every week for a year, and five additional winners will receive $500 cash from KEMBA Credit Union. Get your ducks online at www.rubberduckregatta.org, by phone at 513-929-DUCK (3825) and at local Kroger stores.

You can put down blankets early

You can claim your spot on the Serpentine Wall with a blanket starting at 6 a.m. Saturday -- yes, before the event actually starts. Blankets are placed on a first-come, first-served basis. People are generally respectful of spots that have been reserved, as long as you show up at a reasonable time on the big day. That said, don’t take your sweet time heading down to the riverfront Sunday, thinking your reserved spot will remain undisturbed for hours. Because, no guarantees.

Remember, no booze is allowed

There will be food, soft drinks and water sold at the event but not alcohol -- and no, you aren’t allowed to bring your own. Event staff will check your items at the entrance.

Many streets will be closed

Multiple roads and bridges will be closed or restricted for Riverfest; you have been warned. The city of Cincinnati has not yet released its list of closings, but we'll link to them once they are posted. However, access to the Cincinnati riverfront is traditionally limited to pedestrians only. Here are closures for Covington and Newport. And parking will be at a premium, so this would be a fine time to use public transportation: Metro, TANK and Red Bike. Tap here for a map of all relevant road closures.

Here’s what you can bring ...

  • Strollers
  • Diapers/diaper bags
  • Purse-sized umbrellas
  • Sunblock, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.
  • Bug spray
  • Snacks for small children
  • Folding chairs (in designated areas), blankets, etc.
  • Cameras
  • Radios
  • Earplugs
  • Binoculars


… And here’s what you can’t

  • Alcoholic beverages (We figured it bears repeating.)
  • Illegal weapons and explosives
  • Wheeled items: skateboards, bicycles, roller blades, etc.
  • Laser pointers/laser pens
  • Glass bottles
  • Coolers
  • Liquids
  • Pets (with exception of service dogs)
  • Large umbrellas, chairs, etc.
  • Drug paraphernalia, illegal substances, etc.

Share your photos

We want to see all of your photos from the action. Tweet us @WCPO and tag us @9OnYourSide on Instagram --and make sure to use the hashtags #WEBNfireworks and #Riverfest!

And check out some of these photos from Riverfest through the years.

Three bonus tips from a veteran

Carry tissues or wet wipes. Port-A-Potties and public restrooms quickly run out of paper, and you might want to bring some hand sanitizer, too.

Bring a portable cellphone charger. After being outdoors for hours, you likely will need to recharge your cell at some point. Also, make sure to bring (and wear) plenty of sunblock. A poncho or small umbrella would be a good idea, too, because rain will NOT stop the show.

Be patient. Remember, this event attracts an estimated 500,000 people each year, so expect a few lines at food and drink vendors.

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