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Regatta at Lake Arthur sees massive bump in attendance

MUDDY CREEK TWP — Organizers of the 16th annual Regatta at Lake Arthur had a good feeling about the event, and the turnout for the two-day regatta proved them right.

Despite periodic downpours, people came out in droves, said Holly Muchnok of East Wing Events in Gibsonia.

“The general mood is excited,” she said Saturday. “It’s just kind of magic.”

This morning she said the turnout far exceeded last year’s attendance.

Saturday’s attendance swelled to 6,029, a 67 percent increase from 2013.

Sunday drew another 3,540, making the two-day total of 9,569 a 27 percent increase from last year.

“It was a great weekend,” Muchnok said.

In the days leading up to the regatta, Muchnok predicted attendance to fall between 5,000 and 10,000 people.

The event was at Moraine State Park, mostly around the Pleasant Valley Beach area on the South Shore.

In addition to the classic features of the regatta such as the sailboat races, the car cruise and the Nautical Nature boat tours, the event featured several new activities.

These included the SummersCool tent, where free lessons in camping, kayaking and windsurfing were offered; the Lake Arthur Lily Pad, which featured children’s activities; and the 18-mile biking, trail running and canoeing “MECA” race.

“All of the new stuff is great,” Muchnok said.

Additionally, there was an expanded array of live music played on a stage powered entirely by people riding bicycles and solar panels. More than 50 food, business and craft vendors also were there.

The Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau hired Muchnok last year to organize and revitalize the event after a few years of declining attendance.

Park manager Dustin Drew said he too felt the regatta was going well.

“I’m feeling very good. Things are falling right into place,” Drew said. “I think it’s a more festive atmosphere.”

Jim and Lynda Gauker of Butler Township had not been to the regatta in several years. The last time they attended, the event was on the North Shore.

They said Saturday was a nice enough day to check the regatta out again.

“This is all new to us,” Lynda Gauker said.

Jason Kojtek of Dormont said he was a first-time attendee. He had heard of the event for a few years, but it always was after it took place. This time, he and his wife heard a lot about the regatta leading up to it.

“We wanted to see what it was about,” said Kojtek, who particularly was interested in the music and food trucks.

He was there with his 2-year-old son, Elliot.

“We wanted to get on the water a bit,” Kojtek said.

Christine Paracca of Fombell, near Zelienople, another first-time attendee, was there because her son was supposed to perform on stage with the School of Rock. However, her son, a guitar player, recently had an injury, so he was unable to play and was limited to helping with the stage.

Despite this, Paracca enjoyed the variety and setting of the regatta.

“I’ll be coming back next year. This is fantastic,” Paracca said.

Although Saturday night’s fireworks and one band’s performance were canceled due to rain, the band Nameless in August played inside a tent that could hold 100 people.

“They just rolled with it,” Muchnok said.

The event was capped off Sunday with two butterfly releases while music played.

Along with a mass release of 250 butterflies, there was a release of 75 butterflies by individuals.

“It was a beautiful experience,” Muchnok said.

Eagle staff writer Tom Victoria contributed to this report.

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