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Beer regatta flows into Grand River
Grand Rapids hosts the first national rowing event ever in Michigan that will mix with one of the city’s proudest industries beginning Thursday at Riverside Park.
The U.S. Rowing Masters National Championships will be highlighted by a watch party and “Beer Regatta” at Riverside Park, to celebrate the beer industry and world-class rowing along the Grand River.
“This is going to be a fun spectator event, especially if you’ve never witnessed a rowing regatta,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission, which is co-hosting the event with the Grand Rapids Rowing Association. “We decided to pair a few of Grand Rapids’ most notable features — water and brews — to give viewers a great experience of watching national rowers along the Grand River while enjoying a craft beer garden at Riverside Park.”
The event will bring more than 1,500 rowers and 1,200 boats to the city and feature more than 140 national rowing clubs. There are 200 events during the four days of competition.
The estimated economic impact to the region is $2 million, according to WMSC.
“It is an incredible honor to host the first national rowing event in Michigan, let alone Grand Rapids,” said Landon Bartley, president of the Grand Rapids Rowing Association and local regatta director. “And it will be a sight to behold, with hundreds of boats, thousands of people, and high-intensity rowing right in front of you.”
The regatta is free to the public with designated viewing areas along the river. A hospitality tent with a large screen will also be available with grandstands and an adjacent beer garden. A Vendor Village will feature food and merchandise from Tacos El Cunado, Madcap Coffee, Tiki Island Smoothies, Tim Hortons and Grand Rapids Junior Rowing Boosters.
The hospitality area will have 10 craft beers on tap, including a custom light pale ale called Different Strokes, made for the event by Gravel Bottom Brewery in Ada. An area brewery representative will be featured every day, from 2-6 p.m. on practice day and 12-3 p.m. on race days. The brewers represented, in order, are Founders Brewing Co., Schmohz Brewery, Brewery Vivant, New Holland Brewing Co, and Gravel Bottom.
“Riverside Park is a fantastic place to watch rowing. I recommend spectators come down for an hour or two to relax and watch the regatta, visit our vendors in the hospitality area, grab a beer and some food, and enjoy the day,” Bartley said. “You’ll see all manner and size of boats, plus all ages of competitors, from 27 to 90.”