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The Boat of the Ball this past Tuesday was the Belle of Louisville, as our local girl was crowned winner of the 2012 Great Steamboat Race. Growing up on the banks of the Mississippi, and having traveled across the Ohio river many times, I realized that there was a major river in every city I had ever lived and I had never actually taken a ride on an actual riverboat. The breeze wafting gently off the lazy river, water gently lapping of the bow, and what Mark Twain moment on the mighty river powered only by unpredictable currents and heated water would be complete without a day of jousting, obstacles, tossing monkey fist tossing, and VIP retrieval.
Steamboats have been around since 1787 when John Fitch made his maiden voyage up the Delaware. When people think of them they think of the Belle of Louisville, Delta Queen and the Great Steamboat race every year at Derby time. Everyone is excited to see who is going to win those Golden Antlers. Kids and adults alike love the sound of the whistles and watching the turning of the great paddles on the back. It makes one wonder what James Howard saw through the lens of his camera at his tender young age when he began to photograph Steamboats in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Did he picture the steam billowing up through the big stacks? Did he see the soot on the bow and landing, even at times the clothing? James 'Captain Jim' Howard experienced all of this, and more...and his wonderful photography shows it all.
Yesterday I talked to some Derby Season Haters who think Louisville would be better off without three weeks of pesky festivals. Today, I'm asking some festival lovers who can't get enough which one is their favorite and why.

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