Sternwheel Captains Trade Knowledge During the Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival in Wheeling
WHEELING — In his third year of visiting sternwheel festivals along the Ohio River, Steve Folmar of Glen Dale, who stood in front of his boat “Lady Carmina” chatting with longtime boat captain Bill Price of East Liverpool, said there is a tremendous amount of knowledge to be taken away from such conversations.
As the two have their boats docked at Wheeling’s 18th annual Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival this weekend, Folmar said he appreciates the knowledge of much more seasoned captains on the river, like Price, who is captain of the “Lauren Elizabeth” and has worked with boats for the past 62 years.
“I look to these guys for knowledge and inspiration. These guys have done it all and they know what works,” Folmar said Friday. “That experience is very valuable and priceless.”
Folmar, who first began building his boat six years ago, said his interest in sternwheelers “sparked’ when he attended the Wheeling festival as a kid. He said while it is a hobby where maintenance seems to be never-ending, he said it brings a tremendous camaraderie among boat owners which he enjoys.
“I saw the sternwheelers come in here and that sparked my interest. I always enjoyed the river boats and the sternwheelers — they’re majestic,” he said.
“There’s something about the river. If you’re on the river she can be brutal. … The river can be hard on your boat. So you need to keep an eye on it. The boat itself — it always needs something. It always needs paint. It always needs oil, or something needs touched up.”
Both Folmar and Price said they enjoy bringing family and friends along for cruises on the river. Price, who belongs to the American Sternwheel Association, said he attends several sternwheel festivals along the Ohio River every year between Point Pleasant and Wheeling.
“I love it. My occupation is my hobby. … We built that boat from scratch,” Price explained. He said he loves traveling the rivers and the camaraderie among the boat owners and their families. “I’ve been a riverboat captain for 62 years, and still doing it. Enjoy what your doing. It makes life good. … This year we got to see three Bald Eagles. Go slow and pay attention. That way you don’t miss anything,” Price explained.
The festival, which continues at noon today, offers something for the entire family, according to Festival Chairwoman Diane Jordan.
In addition to viewing several sternwheelers docked at the waterfront, visitors can expect to see live musical entertainment, food vendors and a children’s area. A fireworks display is scheduled for 10:45 p.m. tonight.