Madison Regatta & Roostertail Music Festival

Madison Regatta & Roostertail Music Festival

After months of speculation, Madison Regatta President Greg Thorpe announced Thursday that the Madison Regatta & Roostertail Music Festival will be back on July 2-4, 2021, in Madison, Indiana.

The event, canceled last year along with the rest of the 2020 H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be back with a weekend of boat racing on the Ohio River — including the running of the APBA Gold Cup — and music at nearby Bicentennial Park in downtown Madison.

Coming off last year’s cancellation, Regatta officials were unsure if they would be able to raise the more than half-million dollars needed to stage the race, festival and Roostertail Music Festival, but commitments from the Jefferson County Board of Tourism and the City of Madison — each pledged $50,000 toward the race — and a sponsorship by local industry Nucor Madison helped clear the way for the event to move forward.

“The board and I are excited to be able to bring the Madison Regatta event to our beautiful riverfront this year considering the hard year we all had. This will be great for our community as well as the many loyal race fans,” Thorpe said. “We are eternally grateful for the financial support of the Jefferson County Board of Tourism, City of Madison and Visit Madison Inc. as well as our presenting sponsor Nucor Madison, among countless others.”

The boat racing portion of the event will feature the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series competing for not only the Indiana Governor’s Cup but also the APBA Gold Cup. The racing will also include the Grand Prix America series.

This year marks the 70th running of the Madison Regatta dating back to the 1949 season and not including a washout in 2013 and last year’s race. The Indiana Governor’s Cup has been awarded to the winner of the race every year since 1951.

This year will also mark the fifth time the city has hosted the APBA Gold Cup, the sport’s premier trophy. Madison previously hosted the race in 1971, 1979, 1980 and 2019 and was supposed to stage the event a year ago as part of its two-year agreement with H1 Unlimited. Jim McCormick drove the community-owned Miss Madison to victory in 1971 and Jimmy Shane equaled the feat with the team two years ago.

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney noted the community has always supported its race team and boat racing as fans and partners because what is good for boat racing is good for Madison.

“It is ironic that we find ourselves in a similar situation as Mayor Don Vaughn was in 50 years ago searching for ways to bring the Regatta to the City of Madison,” Courtney said of the town’s efforts to land the Gold Cup for McCormick’s historic win in 1971. “The Madison Regatta is an iconic event with deep community roots but even more so, it is an economic driver for the community’s tourism economy and we found it very compelling to work with the Regatta Board and its volunteers to join with the Jefferson County Board of Tourism to financially support the event this year.”

Although not as steeped in history as the boat races, the companion Roostertail Music Festival will once again include two days of music at Bicentennial Park in what before the pandemic hit was one of the fastest growing music festivals in Indiana.

The Roostertail Music Festival will begin Friday night after the annual Regatta/City of Madison Parade on Main Street with another evening of music on Saturday. The line-up of Roostertail entertainers will be posted soon and can be found online at

Although slightly smaller and slower than the H1 Unlimiteds, the Grand Prix America series puts the thunder in thunderboat racing as the premier supercharged automotive class of powerboats in the nation with speeds upwards of 160 mph.

“Its pure excitement for us at Grand Prix America to be a part of the Madison Regatta and all its historical glory,” said Dean Rojas, president of GPA. “We look forward to getting back on the water in Madison, Indiana!”

Tickets can now be purchased online. General admission, which allows entry to both the Madison Regatta and Roostertail Music Festival, costs $30 now through April 30; $40 May 1 through June 26; and $50 after June 27 when tickets will only be available at select locations and/or the gate.

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