CHILO – Few things symbolize life on the Ohio River better than steamboats.
The Clermont County Park District will celebrate this particular slice of river heritage with its inaugural Steamboat Days from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays, August 11 and 25, at Chilo Lock 34 Park.
Eric Rotsinger – a living historian portraying Mark Twain – will be the featured entertainment Aug. 11.
Rotsinger/Twain will give a talk, answer questions from guests and stroll the grounds with stories of his river life in the late 19th century.
“I have worked on getting into Mark Twain’s head, only to find Mark Twain is a character like Larry the Cable Guy,” Rotsinger said on his website. “The pseudonym was a created and marketed image to sell books and show tickets.
“Behind the mask lies Samuel Clemens, a man as bright and dark, as ridiculous and somber, as calculating and naïve, as this country has ever seen. I will bring you this man in all of his complicated simplicity.”
Most noted as the author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain was also a riverboat captain himself and famously said “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times.”
The featured entertainment Aug. 25 will be a live version of the old television show The Liar’s Club.
Panelists will describe different pieces of a steamboat. Audience members will have a chance to question them to determine who is telling the truth about its actual function.
“It’s a good fit after hearing from Mark Twain,” said Mark Motz, Park District Community Relations Manager. “Twain may have stretched the truth a little in his writing and in his speaking. There’s a long history of tall tales on the river.”
Expert model builder John Fryant will be on hand both weekends with several of his award-winning steamboat models.
In addition, the legendary River Men – a group of expert Park District volunteers – will return to share their experiences on the Ohio River as boat captains, lock masters, travelers and story tellers.
“Chilo Lock 34 is unique in that it’s the only one of the original 56 wicket dam sites built over the 981-mile length of the Ohio River in the 1920s that’s still open to the public,” Motz said. “We have a deep connection to the river and the boats who travel it. We look forward to sharing that with the community.”