Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Calling all canoeists: Prove your skills at Paddlefest

By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Paddlefest 2003, the largest canoe and kayak festival in the Midwest, returns to Cincinnati Saturday, with as many as 1,000 paddlers expected to participate.

Gov. Bob Taft and First Lady Hope Taft will serve as starters for the races, and Rep. Rob Portman has signed to participate in one of the races, event spokesman Brewster Rhoads said Monday.

Organizers said participation this year could double that of last year's inaugural event, which attracted 485 people.

"Four hundred thirty-six have registered as of today," Rhoads said. "We expect at least 800, and likely 1,000."

This year's Paddlefest, sponsored by The Ohio River Way, Inc., will be held along the stretch of the Ohio River from the Four Seasons Marina on Kellogg Avenue to the Serpentine Wall at Sawyer Point in downtown Cincinnati. It will include events ranging from a "leisurely 6-mile float trip" to a 9-mile amateur canoe and kayak race.

There's still time to register. Registration for adults is $20 and $10 for children under 12. On site registration the day of the event begins at 7 a.m. for races and 7:45 a.m. for participants in the 6-mile-family float at Four Seasons Marina, 4609 Kellogg Avenue.

The Paddlefest "Finish Line Festival" will be held at the Serpentine Wall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., featuring live Cajun music, refreshments, displays by more than 25 exhibitors, paddling demonstrations and "war canoe" races.

To register for Paddlefest 2003 or get more information visit online (www.OhioRiverPaddlefest.com) , or call 588-9535.


E-mail bweathers@enquirer.com

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