Spectators watch boats hit the water for Owensboro HydroFair

Races faced multiple delays for debris and high water
Published: Aug. 22, 2021 at 11:01 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2021 at 8:02 PM CDT
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - Due to debris and inclement weather, the Owensboro HydroFair was canceled on Saturday and rescheduled for Sunday.

But after nearly a three-and-a-half-hour delay on Sunday, boats were finally called out to the water.

“Absolutely understand if it was canceled, you’ve got to play it safe no matter what you’re doing, and there’s always a second chance,” HydroFair attendee Sierra Winstead said. “It’s Sunday - we live in the Bible Belt, so not very many people are at work today, so you just get out and enjoy it. No matter what happens.”

Earlier in the morning, officials say the Ohio River rose one foot overnight and because of the higher water level, the dock system was not accessible.

In order for races to begin, event organizers say the level needed to drop about one foot, and the debris needed to clear. The event was delayed again until around 1 p.m.

Roaring across the Ohio River, fans watched boats reach speeds of up to 170 miles per hour.

To help make up for the delays, event officials allowed fans to go down by the boats before they hit the water for a meet and greet.

“It would have been worth it because we got all the autographs and a few pictures, a few hats and shirts, and we also got a pin,” HydroFair attendee Kaden Riddell said.

Riddell is one of many spectators who waited for two days to watch the show, but he says patience got him something much better than just a show.

For those curious about what the training looks like for these kinds of races, it takes a lot of effort.

With such high speeds involved, officials say multiple emergency crews were standing by in case anything happened.

“We’ve also got quite a few dive boats and rescue boats for the drivers out there,” Owensboro Events Director Tim Ross said. “Heaven forbid, one of those would flip or have an issue. And then, all of the drivers for their league have to do training, so they know how to extricate out of their vessel if that boat would turn over.”

Ross says the Hydrofair was expected to bring in nearly 20,000-25,000 people over the course of the weekend, making it another economic boost for the Owensboro area.

You can watch the Owensboro HydroFair in the video below:

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