Water Follies Event Director, Kathy Powell, retires after fifteen years

KENNEWICK, Wash. — As the volunteers prepare both sides of the river for the 2022 HAPO Columbia Cup, one person is getting ready to say goodbye to the event. After fifteen years of turning the Tri-City Water Follies into the biggest crowd-turning event in the area, Kathy Powell is retiring.

Kathy Powell began her time volunteering with the Water Follies in 1994.

“It was the best gig there was, because all the handsome men came to the table,” Powell said. “And the drivers; you got to meet everybody.”

After continuing to volunteer in the pit and around the Water Follies throughout the years, she became the event director. “When we took over in 2007, actually the end of 2006, it was not very well liked in the Tri-Cities.”

Rumors of Powell’s retirement have echoed around the floating stadium of the Columbia river for a few years. She has officially confirmed them.

“I just felt that it was time to move along and, and either try something different or try nothing at all, which is what I hoped for,” Powell said.

This will be her last year at the helm of the ship.

New event director for the Tri-City Water Follies

“I have some really large shoes to fill,” Mark Williams said. “She’s been here a long time; she took it over when they were in some dire straits financially and she’s turned it around and made it really profitable.”

Powell passes the wheel to Williams this year. And Powell said she’s incredibly grateful for her time running the boat races. But she said she’s ready to have a different way to spend her summers.

“I get up in the morning and I look out at my pool and I’m like, see you soon,” Powell laughed.

Despite retiring, she’ll be sticking around the Follies for just a bit longer to make sure things stay in order. Especially through the busy weekend.

Williams said, “People are like, ‘You’re taking over,’ and I’m like, No, I’m following Kathy.”

Mark Williams said he’s been working with security at the boat races since 2011. He was born in Louisiana, but moved to Spokane, Washington in 2009.

Kathy Powell said she will be at this year’s Follies, cruising along as needed and giving advice as it’s asked for.

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