November 2, 2019

If you have read any of my posts you know I feel that every city should and must provide exciting activities for its citizens.  Give them something to do. Give them a reason to come downtown. Provide entertainment where there was previously none.  Chattanooga, Tennessee is remarkable in doing just that. 

This Saturday and event called “Head of the Hooch” was held at Ross’s Landing.  Let’s take a look.

Ross’s Landing was named after Chief John Ross.  John Ross was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian and settled on the banks of the Tennessee River.  His settlement was first called Ross’s Landing and later renamed Chattanooga.  If you look closely, you can see the name written in the Cherokee language.


The Head of the Chattahoochee is a wonderful rowing regatta held in Chattanooga, TN every year on the first Saturday and Sunday of November.

It is one of the world’s largest rowing regattas, with two thousand (2,000+) boats racing over two days.  More than nine thousand (9,000) seats are rowed. Twelve hundred (1,200) boats compete on Saturday alone, more in one day than any other regatta. Participants come from over two hundred (200) different organizations and in 2012 the regatta welcomed crews from twenty-seven (27) different states. The Head of the Hooch has seen a growth in entries from other countries.  The regatta has hosted teams from Canada, Germany, Sweden and Australia.

The Head of the Hooch has been recognized by national magazines as the regatta to attend: the weather is generally wonderful this time of year, the city is great and the racing has the largest number of entries per event of any major regatta. The regatta is organized and hosted by the Atlanta Rowing Club, Roswell, GA and Lookout Rowing Club, Chattanooga, TN.


The regatta is a head race – competitors row a five thousand (5,000)-meter (3.1 mile) course on the Tennessee River ending at the landing.   In this form of racing all boats start sequentially by event and race against the clock.

The Head of the Hooch encourages all participating organizations/schools/clubs to be members of the US Rowing Association.  One of our grandsons is a rower for his school.  He is a member of an eight-man team.


The Head of the Hooch, also known as the Head of the Chattahoochee and ‘The Last of the Great Fall Regattas’, was run for the first time in 1982 by the Atlanta Rowing Club.  The first year there were two hundred and twenty-five 225 rowers filling one hundred and five (105) boats.  For sixteen (16) years the regatta has taken place on the Chattahoochee River in the Roswell River Park located in Roswell GA. In 1997 the regatta had outgrown the park.  From 1997-2004 the regatta has been held at the 1996 Olympic rowing venue in Gainesville GA.  The course there was located on the upper part of the Chattahoochee River.


In 2005, due to the large increases in entries each year, the regatta moved to the Chattanooga Ross’s Landing Riverfront venue. The venue and city have the capability to accommodate the continuous increase in rowers and spectators each year. Each year since 2005 The Hooch and the City of Chattanooga have welcomed over six thousand (6000) rowers and more than fifteen thousand (15,000) spectators.  Of course, you must have hotel and restaurant accommodations to host fifteen thousand spectator and team participants.  That is one reason the event managers moved to Chattanooga.

The Hooch is a unique event.  It attracts athletes, family, alumni, local residents and those who travel to attend. It combines a rowing regatta, arts market and the close proximity of the Tennessee Aquarium, the Discovery Museum and Hunter Art Museum all within walking distance of the venue.  Many hotels and restaurants are right in the downtown close to the venue.  In all, a perfect match.

As the Hooch moves through its third decade, its director and committee members continue to improve, grow and enhance the regatta that started as a small event on a Saturday many years ago.

In 2015, the Chattanooga Sports & Events Committee estimated the economic impact of the Hooch over 5 million dollars. That year the Head of the Hooch raced 1256 boats (37 events) on Saturday and 862 boats (43 events) on Sunday. Almost 80% of the competitors are High School/College crews.


OK, with that said, let’s take a look at Saturday’s event.

You can get some idea as to the arrangement from the JPEG above.  This picture was taken from the Walnut Street Bridge.  This bridge is a walking bridge” allowing runners and walker access to the North Shore of the City.  You can see one of the boats in the Tennessee River.

The Hunter Museum of Art is very prominent as seen from the Walnut Street Bridge and served as one parking lot for the visitors to the event.

You can get some idea as to the number of visitors from the following picture taken on the Walnut Street Bridge.

The fifteen thousand spectators came to see their favorite teams participate so the men and women in the event had to have stations from which to start. You can see how these were positioned along the landing

This digital is taken from the stands at Ross’s Landing looking north towards Coolidge Park and the North Shore area.

As mentioned, the crowds were tremendous for the event.  One reason—remarkable weather. The seating was marvelous and plentiful.

I certainly hope you can visit Chattanooga to take in this event.  You will not regret the visit.

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