GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Boaters and rowers alike filled the Grand River this weekend for the 2014 USRowing Masters National Championship Regatta.
It’s the first year Grand Rapids has hosted the event, and organizers said that more than 1,500 participants came from far and wide, ready to spend money in Beer City, USA.
Organizers said that the City of Grand Rapids has been the perfect host.
"People get tired of seeing the same place, so the level of excitement for being somewhere new really, I think, helped draw a lot of people," said A.J. Dominique, organizer. "We got nothing but positive feedback from everyone since we've been here. People have come from as far away as Alaska, all the way from Florida, the East Coast."
Dominique said participants aren’t just coming to West Michigan to row, they were also ready to lay down some cash. "It's really their annual vacation, so they don't only stay in a hotel, they treat themselves. So, they will fill up the most expensive hotels. They will go out to dinner every night. They will rent cars, they will spend the money the way they want to because they've been saving up for this all year long."
Finding a hotel vacancy this weekend was hard, given the number of visitors in town, Dominique said.
"From what I've heard, the downtown hotels are pretty full. So, they've reached out to the hotels around the airport and further out, and a lot of people are starting to use home rentals and things like that, so they are all over the area," said Dominique.
While it may be the competitors' love for the water that brings them to West Michigan, it’s the friendly environment that will get them to return, Dominique said. "We've gotten comment of how friendly the people are at the hotels, the restaurants, just on the streets, here at the venue, so people have really felt the Midwest warm welcome," said Dominique.
You can read more about the organization on their website by clicking here.