A little bit of history about Tall Stacks...
Tall Stacks was first held as part of Cincinnati's Bicentennial year in 1988.
It was one of five events that took place throughout 1988 to celebrate Cincinnati's
200th birthday. Tall Stacks was by far the most popular and well attended of
those five events. Because of the unique qualities of the festival, the Toronto
Globe & Mail and the Chicago Tribune named Tall Stacks one of the top ten events
in the world that year. The first Tall Stacks welcomed 14 riverboats and over 700,000
people to the city's riverbanks for three days in October. Tall Stacks launched a
legacy of pride in Cincinnati's rich river history and rekindled the nation's love
affair with the steamboat.
The second Tall Stacks celebration took place in 1992 and established the one-of-a-kind
festival as one of the nation's premiere events. Without question, Tall Stacks '92 was
the most publicized, most attended and most successful event in Greater Cincinnati's
history. Over 800,000 people joined us for the second version of the Tall Stacks event,
which lasted over four days. In addition, 6,000 citizens volunteered to help put on the
event. Tall Stacks '92 celebrated Cincinnati's river history with four days of riverboat
tours, cruises and races, continuous musical entertainment, and 100 acres of on-shore
historical displays and exhibits.
Cincinnati once again threw itself a party, welcomed 19 riverboats, and then invited
the nation to relive the romance of the steamboat era in one of the nation's thriving
river cities. Nearly 850,000 people enjoyed five days of riverboat tours, cruises and races.
Five stages of musical entertainment and 100 acres of onshore displays and activities kept
the crowds on the shore busy. The neighboring communities of Newport and Covington joined
the festival by holding historical Civil War re-enactments and erecting historical displays
and exhibits along the river's edge just across the Ohio River. Tall Stacks had grown into
one of the most anticipated and attended events in the Midwest.
With their tall stacks steaming, calliopes blowing and red paddlewheels turning, 19
riverboats gathered once again at the Port of Cincinnati for Tall Stacks '99. For five
days, the cities of Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington and Newport, Kentucky partnered in
re-creating the era of riverboat romance with continuous onshore entertainment, riverboat
races and tours, living history exhibits and hundreds of costumed characters telling tall
tales of the riverboat age. In addition, Tall Stacks '99 was named the nation's Top Tourism
Event by the American Bus Association (ABA). Riverboats from ten states and fourteen cities
made Tall Stacks 99 the nation's largest celebration of the Steamboating Era. "Tall
Stacks is a celebration like no other," said Leonard A. Weakley, former chairman of the
Greater Cincinnati Tall Stacks Commission, the non-profit group that organizes the event
every four years. "The adventure and romance of life on the river are recreated for
five days on the banks of the Ohio River. Mark Twain himself would be impressed."
Over 660,000 people enjoyed the event that year.
In 2003, the Tall Stacks Music, Arts & Heritage Festival lasted five days and expanded
on previous events by adding enhanced onshore entertainment and educational activities.
The five-day event saw over 900,000 visitors and had an economic impact on the Greater
Cincinnati area of $48.5 million. This number includes over 60,000 children attending
the event on school field trips or with their families, visiting Sawyertown and its ten,
interactive learning centers, watching Children's Theatre performances and taking harbor
cruises on one of the Tall Stacks riverboats. In addition, thousands enjoyed performances
by some of the top names in music including BB King, Ricky Skaggs, Mary Chapin Carpenter,
the Blind Boys of Alabama and Los Lobos. In all, over 100 artists gave musical performances
at Tall Stacks. In addition, there were nightly fireworks displays, hot-air balloon events,
theatrical performances and bicentennial commemorations. The 2003 event also saw the
introduction of the Theme Cruise. This new ticket option introduced thousands to the riverboat
experience through Wine Tastings, Ice Cream Socials, Riverboat History cruises, Family Fun
cruises, Cincinnati Zoo cruises and many more. As stated in one headline that appeared during
the event in the Cincinnati Enquirer, "Tall Stacks told the world we know how to party".
October 4-8, 2006
The Tall Stacks Music, Arts & Heritage Festival will return to Cincinnati in 2006 with
even more music, food, fun and riverboats to entertain and educate thousands and to once
again shine positive national attention on the Tri-State. To read the event announcement
follow this link. Please check back often for more information about Tall Stacks 2006.
We will update this web site as details become available.
Greater Cincinnati Tall Stacks Festival
537 East Pete Rose Way, Suite 110
Cincinnati, OH 45202