Ready to Roar: Annual race returns to river

Photo courtesy of Trenton Rotary Club

The Trenton Roar on the River, sponsored by the Trenton Rotary Club, goes full throttle Friday night before filling the Detroit River Saturday and Sunday with high-speed boat racing action.

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON – It started as a boat race, a day on the river. Over the years, live entertainment, family activities and other events turned the Roar On the River into a save-the-date weekend.

“It was a very small event,” Linda Francetich, of the Trenton Rotary Club, said. “Boat races, hot dogs and cotton candy.”

Back then, 61 years ago, the Roar on the River was a single day’s event hosted by the Lions Club. Now organized by the Rotary Club and relocated to a base in Elizabeth Park, the Roar grew far beyond the cornerstone boat races.

“It’s like a water festival, there’s a lot to do,” Francetich, one of the Roar committee’s executive directors, said. “It’s a great way to meet new people, see old friends and help the community.”

The Roar kicks off at 6:30 p.m. July 22 with Taste of the Races. The public is welcome to watch the time trials on the river, or attend the ticketed taste fest ($35 entry) to sample all-you-can-eat offerings from 31 local restaurants. The Taste runs until 9:30 p.m., with entertainment courtesy of Hidden Agenda Band.

Racing action begins in earnest on Saturday, with super short track 120/45, Junior Hydro and other competitions held throughout the day along with jet ski exhibitions. The races are joined by a full lineup of entertainment and activities for the whole family.

Newcomers to this year’s lineup include the singing competition “Roar Idol,” with an anticipated 150 contestants competing for prizes in two age catergories (18 and under, 19 and over).

In honor of Navy Week, the U.S. Navy will participate with the military rock band Horizon playing onstage Saturday evening (6 to 8 p.m.), and sailors from the U.S.S. George Washington in attendance.

One departure from previous years will be the absence of the car show, an event Francetich said faced too much competition. “There are a lot of car shows going on that day,” she said. “It was becoming more of a challenge, and we had so many other events.”

An estimated 30,000 attendees are expected at the Roar, which Francetich said has become a community staple. Admission to the Roar is free, although there is a $5 suggested donation for parking, and some of the children’s activities, such as the Bungee Bouncer, require a small fee.

“It’s very family friendly,” she said. “We have a lot of community groups signed up as volunteers, and we really enjoy the comaraderie from those who like to be part of this.”

Entertainment on Saturday at 8 p.m. includes Category 5 performing original and cover songs. Fireworks will fill the sky Saturday at dusk, and this year’s special guests include the Detroit Pistons dance team, Automotion, the Palace Patrol and Hooper the mascot.

For more information, visit or call (734) 675-0266.