The three-day event is centered on the Allegheny River in Venango County, Pa.
By LAURI GALENTINE
OIL CITY, Pa. -- The fifth annual Oil Region River Romp kicks into action Friday with a Fish Fry at the Emlenton Kiwanis Club along the Allegheny River in downtown Emlenton.
The event is the official sign-up spot for the weekend Mr. Whiskers Fishing Derby, said River Romp chairwoman Marilyn Black. Entrants seek to catch the most catfish and carp from any point along the Allegheny River or its main tributaries within the Oil Heritage Region, which includes the Venango County towns of Tionesta, Emlenton, Franklin, Kennerdell, and Oil City, she said.
"River Romp offers a great opportunity to explore the Allegheny River Valley by kayak, jet boat, or along its banks," said Black, who is also the manager of Oil Region Heritage Inc., the tourism organization that coordinates the event each year.
On Saturday, the celebration continues with Family Day from noon to 9 p.m. at Riverfront Park in Franklin, centered at the mouth of French Creek as it enters the Allegheny River.
This event will feature Frantic Fall Freshet, a homemade watercraft race.
Black said the race is new this year.
Family Day activities will also include free kayak rides, the Second Annual Oil Barge Race, storytelling and songs around a bonfire.
There will also be a casting competition for ages 7 to 14; the Freaky Fish Art Contest; the Pennsylvania Frog Jump, in which the winner's frog is measured to have had the greatest distance traveled in three hops; raffles of a kayak and other river gear; and a sprint raft race also featuring homemade watercraft in which contestants are judged for speed, creativity of design, best use of costuming, and other categories.
The "Eat Your Bait" booth will feature things eaten by fish and people alike, including frog legs, snails, mussels, cricket chocolate chips, dessert dirt, frog pizza and more.
Kurt Steiner of Emporium, the 2001 Pennsylvania and 2002 National Champion Stone Skipper, will return to defend his title at the Pennsylvania Qualifying Stone Skipping Championship competition.
In stone-skipping, the winner is determined by how many times his or her stone hops before sinking into the river, Black said. Steiner won last year's state championship in Franklin with 25 hops and captured the national title July 4 this year with 21 hops during the event in Mackinac Island, Mich., Black said.
The competition has categories for youth and adults.
Parking for Family Day activities is provided free at the Joy Manufacturing Plant, Elk and Second streets in Franklin. A shuttle service to and from the park will be available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Kennerdell Arts Festival on Sept.15 features amateur and professional arts competitions and live musical performances by Cahal Dunne and New Morning. Admission is $10 per carload or $5 a person and includes parking.
The seven-mile Allegheny River canoe race, a USCA-sanctioned competition, begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 15 at the Oil City Marina and winds up at the Franklin Trailhead.
Guided jet boat rides to Indian God Rock will launch every hour Sunday from Franklin's Third Street Ramp.
Black said the 50-minute tour visits the famous boulder on the east bank of the river where Native Americans inscribed petroglyphs, and generations of other travelers added layers of writings carved into the limestone. The tours are available for $10 per person, or $25 per family, she said.
The festivities will conclude with the "Best Chicken BBQ East of the Allegheny River" Sunday afternoon in Kennerdell's Wilson Park, Black said.
Most of the competitions do have entry fees, Black said, and complete information is available at the Oil Heritage Region, Inc. Call (814) 677-3152, or (800) 483-6264, Ext. 23, for Amy Beach or Ext. 17 for Black. Information is also available at www.riverromp.com.