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Tall Stacks, formally known as the Tall Stacks Music, Arts, and Heritage Festival, is a festival held every three or four years in the Cincinnati, Ohiomarker area, which celebrates the city's heritage of the riverboat. The sixth edition was held on October 4 through October 8, 2006. The festival typically features a number of vintage and replica steamboats from across the eastern United Statesmarker, who dock along the Ohio River shoreline in Cincinnati and across the river in Covingtonmarker and Newport, Kentuckymarker.

The Belle of Louisville docks next to the Natchez in Cincinnati for Tall Stacks.

The next festival is tentatively scheduled for 2010. Exact dates have not been determined.


The first Tall Stacks festival was held in October 1988 as a part of Cincinnati's bicentennial celebration. Fourteen riverboats made appearances in the three-day festival, which included tours of the boats, cruises, and races between rivals Delta Queenmarker and Belle of Louisvillemarker--a renewal of their annual race during the Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville, Kentuckymarker. More than 700,000 people attended.

Subsequent festivals:

  • 1992, when the event expanded to four days. Attendance increased to 800,000, which was the largest attendance for any event in Cincinnati history to date.

  • 1999, though attendance was down, Tall Stacks '99 drew 660,000 and was named the nation's top tourism event by the American Bus Association. Nineteen riverboats again travelled to the festival.

  • 2003, when the festival took on its current formal name and drew a record 900,000 visitors. "Theme cruises" were an added attraction, such as wine tasting cruises, Cincinnati Zoomarker cruises, and more. Musical acts included Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, The Jayhawks, Delbert McClinton, John Hammond, Nickel Creek, B.B. King, Los Lobos, Ricky Skaggs, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and more than 150 other national, regional, and local bands.

  • 2009, Officials say they’ve scrapped plans for the 2009 Tall Stacks, and they will decide later whether to hold the event in 2010.

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