The Belle of Louisville cruises to victory in Great Steamboat Race


The Belle is back with a vengeance, taking home the Silver Antlers in this year’s Great Steamboat Race.

The competing boats, the Belle of Cincinnati and the American Duchess of Memphis, weren’t far behind, though the Belle of Louisville ultimately won the grand prize after a year of stagnation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Belle of Louisville wins Great Steamboat Race
The Belle of Louisville won the Great Steamboat Race on the Ohio River in 2021. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

The race was a total of 14 miles on the Ohio River, finishing at the Clark Memorial Bridge.

After the race started at 6 p.m., guests enjoyed cocktails, music, and food on the Belle for about an hour and a half, ultimately roaring with excitement as she hit the finish line first.

“Coming off the last year to be able to come out and do something we didn’t think we’d be able to do. It makes it a lot more special for us,” Misty Justice told WAVE 3 News.

The boat reduced capacity due to COVID-19, but many who regularly attend the boat race came back.

“Absolutely the favorite, yes,” Anthony Head said. “We’ve met people from all over the world.”

Head and Mike Ellis make a point to board the boat every year for the race. Every year, they pick a different theme for what to wear.

“This year is southern gentleman,” Ellis said. “Two years ago it was riverboat gamblers, three years ago we dressed up in barbershop quartets.”

An annual event, the Great Steamboat Race is held during the Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville.

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