In the past, my family has always used the three-day weekend of Labor Day to visit my grandparents in Indiana. I was too busy to go this year, but I did have a chance to spend an evening at Cincinnati’s Labor Day celebration with my friend Jerod.
Riverfest is a huge festival that takes place not just in Cincinnati, but also across the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky. Jerod and I started our evening on the Cincinnati side. Our first impression was that this seemed to be the family-friendly side, with giant bouncy toys and epic games of frisbee.
As much fun as the bouncy dragon looked, we decided almost immediately that the Kentucky side looked like the place to be.
It was almost three more hours until the firework show, but the boats were already in place.
After walking across the bridge, we checked out all of the tents, drooling over the food stalls, listening to the bands play, watching some of the crazy characters of the Cincinnati area, and even scoring some pizza that was being given away to make way for fresher pizzas. (I should mention that if you ever find yourself in the area, you MUST try LaRosa’s pizza. It’s just as iconic to Cincinnati as New York style pizza and Chicago deep dish are to their respective homes.)
And because this is an American festival, after all, other food options included many other greasy selections. With foods ranging from funnel cakes to deep-fried okra, it was impossible not to find something delicious.
Shortly before the firework show was supposed to start, it started to rain really hard. Jerod and I headed into Newport’s shopping mall, hoping to wait out the storm, but the rain only got worse. Finally, we headed into the downpour and found a spot in the wet grass to plop down and watch the fireworks. It was cold and wet and a little bit miserable, but the show was SO worth it.
The best place to watch the fireworks, in my opinion, is on the Newport side of the river, so that you can see the show with the Cincinnati skyline in the background. You should make sure you’re between the two bridges so that you can see the waterfall of fireworks that comes down from the bridges. (Does that make it a firefall?)
The show went on despite the heavy rain, but you can see that some people were much smarter than us and had brought rain ponchos or were taking cover under the tarp they had brought to sit on.
The fireworks were dazzling, and even though the rain never stopped, I didn’t mind shivering in my soaked clothing because it meant I got to see views like this.
The rain and the show ended at about the same time. Soaked and cold, Jerod and I crossed the bridge into Ohio and caught a bus home, each of us looking forward to getting back to our own apartments for a much-needed hot shower.
Despite being very wet, my first experience at Riverfest was wonderful. I can’t wait to go back next year, if I’m in Cincinnati. But I think, just to be safe, I’ll bring an umbrella with me next time!
Do you have any Labor Day traditions?