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Hot dogs and speed boats draw crowds downtown

Jul. 26, 2014 @ 11:29 PM

HUNTINGTON — Speed was the name of the game Saturday in downtown Huntington.

There were powerboat races along the Ohio River, a Bun Run 10K, 5K and fun run, a hot dog eating contest, a root beer chugging contest, kids radio car races, Wiener races and the $100 Dachsund Dash.

The combination of the West Virginia Hot Dog Festival and the Huntington Classic Regatta brought large crowds to downtown throughout the day and into the evening Saturday.

J.R. Snyder of Huntington brought his great-granddaughter, Olivia Rudd, 7, down to catch some of the races along the river. “I used to come down all the time when they had the powerboat races. It’s great that they’re back.”

“They were fast,” Olivia said.

Jennifer Harber of Milton was among those sitting along the river bank watching the races. Her dad, Bob Rader of Proctorville, Ohio, used to race powerboats.

“We’ve followed the races for years,” she said. “We’re glad to see them back in Huntington. We come down every year. They’re loud and they’re fast. The river looks fast today and you couldn’t ask for better weather.”

Bob Harber has been to powerboat races as far away as St. Louis, Missouri, and Augusta, Georgia.

“I used to race in the late 60s and early 70s,” he said. “It’s expensive. Factories make a lot of changes trying to outdo the competition. You about have to have a sponsor to keep up.”

Dan Ferguson, chairman of the Huntington Classic Regatta, said about 20 boats are participating in this year’s races. Ferguson, who used to oversee the powerboat races when they were part of the Tri-State Fair and Regatta 30 years ago, brought the races back to Huntington four years ago.

Two classes of powerboats were scheduled to race Saturday and Sunday, one class has boats with speeds between 60 and 80 miles per hour and another class with speeds between 80 and 110 miles per hour, Ferguson said.

David Hendren and his wife, Allyson, of Winfield, participated in the Bun Run and then headed down to the riverfront and over to Pullman Square to get some hot dogs.

Hendren pushed his daughters, Kenzie, 3, and Ava, 1, in a stroller while he ran in the race and Allyson participated in her first 10K.

“We got hooked on the powerboat races in the 1970s,” said Sam Stewart of Huntington. “I love to watch the speed. We enjoy coming out and spending the day on the riverbank. I hope the city of Huntington stays with this and brings more vendors and more boats.”

More than 100 Dachshund owners signed up their dogs to participate in the wiener races at noon along 3rd Avenue.

“We’re trying to grow to have 150 dogs,” said Kym York-Blake, who oversaw the races. “We’re trying to be the biggest in the nation or at least the biggest on the East Coast. We have owners from New Jersey, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Tennessee. We’re finally starting to get notices.”

The West Virginia Hot Dog Festival is trying to raise some $150,000 to benefit the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital, she said. It was the 10th year for the wiener races.

Shelley Vincent of Huntington was hoping to be among dog owners participating in the wiener races with her dog, “Pookie.”

“It’s just fun,” she said. “You get to see all different variety of dogs. It’s cute to see them.”

Marlene and T.J. Holbert of Apple Grove, brought three Dachshunds to this year’s race, Daphne, Shaggy Bear and Daisy Mae. Daphne and Shaggy Bear are past winners of the race, Marlene Holbert said.

“We come every year,” she said. “If you have wiener dogs, you have to race them. My husband holds them, and I call to them. I just yell so they’ll see me. I jump up and down.”

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