Great Steamboat Race Presented by IBEW Local 369

The Derby Festival made some significant changes to the format of the Great Steamboat Race in 2009, including the addition of the Belle of Cincinnati as the opponent for the hometown vessel, the Belle of Louisville. The Belle of Cincinnati replaced longtime rival, the Delta Queen, in this racing tradition on the Ohio River. Now, instead of the event winner being determined by the first boat to cross the finish line at the Clark Memorial Bridge, the winner of the event is the vessel that accumulates the most points from performing a series of five tasks assigned to each competitor throughout the day and during the race. One of the tasks is a Calliope Contest between the two Belles; other tasks are performed by the boat crews on-board, as well as onshore. Each boat is assigned two judges, in addition to an overall event judge from the Derby Festival. The winner of the event will be awarded a set of silver-plated antlers to replace the traditional gilded antlers that were presented to the winner in the past. The Awards Ceremony will take place immediately following the race at the Chow Wagon in Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront. Tickets for the Belle of Louisville (while still available) cost $150 and include food and drinks; Belle of Cincinnati tickets cost $60 (includes dinner).

Four Roses Bourbon will be providing a special bourbon tasting on the Belle of Cincinnati; tickets cost $95 (includes food, cruise, and bourbon tasting). Passenger tickets for both boats may be purchased by calling (502) 584-FEST.

The Belle of Cincinnati will be competing in the Derby Festival’s Great Steamboat Race for the eighth time – she had previously participated in four consecutive years, beginning in 2002. The Great Steamboat Race was first held in 1963, with the Delta Queen capturing the inaugural contest on the Ohio River. The race series between the two historic vessels ended in 2008 with the hometown Belle of Louisville finishing with an overall record of 22 wins versus the Delta Queen’s 20 victories. The race was canceled once in 1967 and rescheduled in 1966, 1983 and 2011 due to high water. Three other boats have won the event – the Julia Belle Swain in 1976, the Natchez in 1982 and the Spirit of Jefferson in 1999.

1963 – Delta Queen
1964 – Belle of Louisville
1965 – Delta Queen
1966 – Delta Queen
1967 – No race (due to high water)
1968 – Delta Queen
1969 – Belle of Louisville
1970 – Belle of Louisville
1971 – Belle of Louisville (by default)
1972 – Belle of Louisville
1973 – Delta Queen
1974 – Delta Queen
1975 – Belle of Louisville
1976 – Julia Belle Swain (from Peoria, Illinois)
1977 – Delta Queen
1978 – Delta Queen
1979 – Belle of Louisville
1980 – Belle of Louisville (by default)
1981 – Belle of Louisville
1982 – Natchez (from New Orleans, Louisiana)
1983 – Belle of Louisville
1984 – Delta Queen
1985 – Delta Queen
1986 – Delta Queen
1987 – Belle of Louisville
1988 – Belle of Louisville
1989 – Delta Queen
1990 – Delta Queen
1991 – Belle of Louisville
1992 – Delta Queen
1993 – Belle of Louisville
1994 – Delta Queen
1995 – Belle of Louisville
1996 – Belle of Louisville
1997 – Delta Queen
1998 – Belle of Louisville
1999 – Spirit of Jefferson (racing for the side-lined Belle)
2000 – Belle of Louisville
2001 – Delta Queen
2002 – Belle of Louisville
2003 – Delta Queen
2004 – Belle of Louisville
2005 – Belle of Louisville
2006 – Delta Queen
2007 – Belle of Louisville
2008 – Delta Queen
2009 – Belle of Louisville
2010 – Belle of Cincinnati
2011 – Belle of Louisville
2012 – Belle of Louisville
2013 – Belle of Cincinnati
2014 – Belle of Louisville
2015 – Belle of Louisville
2016 – Belle of Cincinnati
2017 – Belle of Cincinnati
2018 – American Duchess

2019 – Belle of Louisville