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Summer Motion---35 Years & Going Strong

Summer Motion---35 Years & Going Strong

Grace Phillips

 The Ashland Beacon



Every summer for the several days immediately before July 4, Ashland’s river bank is filled with the sounds of music, laughter, families, the smell of funnel cakes and other festival foods. Summer Motion is Ashland’s biggest summer bash, and it is just about to begin. 

Summer Motion has roots all the way back to 1977 with the Tristate Fair & Regatta. The Tristate Fair and Regatta was a festival between the cities of Ashland, Ironton, and Huntington to celebrate the Fourth of July. Eventually, that festival ended and in 1989 Summer Motion was born.

At that time, Summer Motion was comprised of two days of activities in Central Park featuring a craft show, car shows, concerts in the bandstand and many other family activities. The festival would then move to the riverfront for three days of concerts.  Ruby Deerfield, Festival President said, “It was like running two festivals at the same time and very difficult to get everything moved and ready to go for the rest of the festival.”  In recent years, the entire festival has been staged entirely on the banks of the Ohio River at Ashland’s Riverport. 

Deerfield, who has been with the festival in one capacity or another almost since its beginnings shared, “This the 35th year for Summer Motion.  We have some great entertainment lined up for all to enjoy on the Riverfront. This year’s festival runs from June 28th – July 4th.” 

Summer Motion 2024 will kick off Friday, June 28 with carnival rides by the river at 5 p.m. and Pickle Ball Classic at the Central Park courts. The tournament will run for three days. Saturday morning, June 29th features the Summer Motion 10K and 5K run. You can find information for the runs at:

The festival goes into full swing with the first concerts at the riverfront Tuesday, July 2. The gates will open at 4 p.m. and feature carnival rides, inflatables, food vendors, games, and specialty booths. Inflatables will be provided by Bounce Into Fun where you can get a $10 armband.  Please note this armband is for inflatables ONLY; the Carnival will have separate armbands and pricing for its rides and attractions.

Summer Motion strives to provide entertainment that will appeal to everyone. Each night will feature a different genre of music.  Deerfield continued, “Summer Motion is a family-friendly festival with lots to enjoy for everyone. The concerts each night are free and feature some of the finest artists and bands in the country.”

Tuesday, July 2 is Contemporary Christian night featuring Lexington, Kentucky native Anne Wilson. Wilson, who now lives in Nashville, mixes the heart of Contemporary Christian Music, with the sound of country. Her debut 2021 debut single, “My Jesus,” became GOLD-certified No.1 on Billboard’s Christian Airplay chart. She also won a Grammy for the debut album “My Jesus” as well as many other awards and accolades. She has a bestselling book titled My Jesus: From Heartache to Hope. Wilson hopes to continue to blur the musical divide which she describes as the heart of Christian Music, the sound of Country and the hope of Jesus. Also appearing Tuesday will be the Music Collective.

Brand new to Summer Motion this year will be Bluegrass Music. Deerfield stated that many people over the last few years had requested a Bluegrass night, “We are very excited to be able to offer it this year. We have the Price Sisters and Sister Sadie and Jason Carter performing.” 

Sister Sadie has been described as “raging hot bluegrass combined with breathtaking instrumental drive and awe-inspiring vocals.” They are a two-time IBMA Vocal Group of the Year, 2020 IBMA Entertainer of the Year, and 61st Annual Grammy Award Nominated Best Bluegrass Album: Sister Sadie “II.” The Price Sisters grew up singing together, which is quite natural since they are twins. It has been said they have the classic style of Bill Monroe but offer a fresh sound in bluegrass that stems from their tight family harmony.

Closing the Bluegrass night will be Jason Carter. If you travel US 23 near Lloyd, Kentucky you will see a sign bearing his name to honor him for his many accomplishments and accolades he’s earned through his music. Carter pours his Kentucky roots back into bluegrass. At 15, he declared that someday he’d play in the Del McCoury Band, and for the past 30 years he has done exactly that! He has taken home five IBMAs for “Fiddle Player of the Year.”

The final night of Summer Motion is dedicated to Country Music. The music will once again begin at 7:00 p.m. with Greenup Native, Kyle Fields.  Kyle began playing music at the age of 12 when his grandmother gave him his first guitar.  He moved to Nashville when he was 22 to pursue his music career.  At 8:00 p.m., festival goers will be treated to a Patriotic Tribute followed at 9:00 p.m. by Tracy Byrd. 

Byrd is a multi-platinum recording artist. He can be described as unique, talented, and charismatic but possibly the best word to use would be “real.” He sings honestly from his heart and soul combining art, story, and song in perfect unison.

You could say that Summer Motion each year ends with a bang... a literal bang!  You will experience one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the tristate at the close of the evening. At this time the fireworks are scheduled to begin at 10:15 p.m. 

In closing, Deerfield has one final thank you. “I want to personally thank our sponsors. If we did not have these sponsors, we would not be able to have Summer Motion. I also want to thank my committee and more than 100 plus volunteers who helped us throughout the festival.”

As you can see, there is truly something for everyone.  Grab your chair and make your plans now to enjoy the 2024 Summer Motion lineup. 





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