Livermore hosts 24th annual drag boat race with more than 50 teams

Drag Boat Racer Bryce Venere taking off from the starting line. Venere travelled from West Virginia to participate in Thunder on the Green.

Thunder on the Green held its 24th annual drag boat race, bringing more business to the Livermore community this past weekend.

According to Sonny Renfrow, event organizer for the races, the weekend was one of the busiest with approximately 1,500 spectators to watch the race and upward of 50 racing teams.

Kentucky Drag Boat Association member and one of the founders of the event, Bob Hardison, or "Jet Boat Bob," as he is nicknamed in the McLean County boating community, said the event took three days to set up.

"It takes a lot of communication and knowing a lot of people to make this thing work ... the city, and Sonny Renfrow, he's been a lot of help to us."

Hardison said that the event takes such tedious planning because they have to coordinate with the Coast Guard to block traffic coming through the river. He said that they also have to keep in constant contact with barges that come through so that they can put a pause on the races to move the equipment and let them by.

Additionally, the KDBA had to get a noise ordinance for the annual event, according to Hardison. He said when the event first began, it received a lot of noise complaints from the community. Complaints have gone down since the event has begun to bring in spectators, which gives Livermore a boost in business, he said.

"It brings money to the county. That helps a lot. We're just here to try to help. We're not trying to be a nuisance to the community," Hardison said.

Hardison said that the event not only brings more people and business into Livermore, but it also involves local organizations and students as well as people that are willing to volunteer time and labor.

Volunteers include the county and city fire departments, in addition to people that are willing to drive the rescue boats and help set up and break down the event.

Hardison said that the event gets bigger and better each year they put it on.

"You got to have a real good group of men that are willing to work for nothing," Hardison said. "It's a lot of coordination ... it just kept growing. We kept putting more money back into it, and it just grows."

cnetherton@mcleannews.com

270-691-7360

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