CINCINNATI — 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 43rd 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.
Riverfest runs from noon-10 p.m. Sunday at Sawyer Point Park and Yeatman's Cove. The Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks will start at 9:07 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.)
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, face painting and balloon art for children. Visitors will also be able to get their picture taken with one of the following local mascots and sport celebs:
🕐Ben-Gal Cheerleaders: 1-2 p.m.
🕐Who Dey: 2-3 p.m.
🕐Gapper: 3-4 p.m.
🕐Queen Bee: 4-5 p.m.
There will also be live music by local and national performers starting at 5 p.m. as part of the KISS 107.1 FM and T-Mobile "Just Show Up" free concert series. This year’s musical lineup includes Judah and the Lion, Stephen Puth and the Public.
The Cincinnati Circus Company will bring a new twist to Riverfest this year. The circus's Carnival Sideshow will perform every half hour from noon-8 p.m. Sunday at Sawyer Point Park.
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 on Sunday before the Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks. The owner of the first-place duck will win a 2019 Honda CR-V. 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 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.
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.
Multiple roads and bridges will be closed or restricted for Riverfest; you have been warned. Access to the Cincinnati riverfront is traditionally limited to pedestrians only.
Here are the closures for Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. 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.
✅ Diapers/diaper bags
✅ Purse-sized umbrellas
✅ Sunblock, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.
✅ Bug spray
✅ Snacks for small children
✅ Folding chairs (in designated areas), blankets, etc.
❌Alcoholic beverages (We figured it bears repeating.)
❌Illegal weapons and explosives
❌Wheeled items: skateboards, bicycles, rollerblades, etc.
❌Laser pointers/laser pens
❌Pets (with exception of service dogs)
❌Large umbrellas, chairs, etc.
❌Drug paraphernalia, illegal substances, etc.
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 will likely 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.