The Ohio River Paddlefest will return to the Ohio River for its 21st year on Saturday August 6th.
“We are thrilled to welcome paddlers back to this flagship community event, the largest paddling celebration in the country,” said Miriam Wise, Director of Support and Engagement for Adventure Crew, which produces Paddlefest. “With two distances to choose from, the event is accessible to paddlers of all skill levels.”
Interested participants should pre-register for the traditional Paddlefest 9-mile paddle or the 4.5-mile MINI Paddlefest, which was added in 2021.
Dreamed up by friends who wanted to paddle together, the first Ohio River Paddlefest was held in 2001 with 275 paddlers. It has since grown to become the nation’s largest boating party, attracting some 2,000 paddlers for a float down the Ohio River on the first Saturday in August. The paddle is reserved by a pre-party on Friday night and a finish line festival after the paddle on Saturday.
The Friday night pre-party, the Outdoors for All exhibit, is free and open to the public. A celebration of all things outdoors, it will feature exhibits and hands-on demonstrations from local parks, outdoor outfitters, adventure experts and environmentally conscious organizations; live music by The Tillers, Tracy Walker and Gabbard & Co.; local beer from MadTree Brewing; several food trucks; and a raffle for great outdoor prizes. Held at the Schmidt Recreation Complex, the launch site for Saturday’s Paddlefest, the Expo runs from 4-9.30pm on August 5. More details are available at www.ohioriverpaddlefest.org.
On Saturdays, both paddling routes begin at the Schmidt Recreation Complex, 2944 Humbert Ave. in the East End. The morning begins with the Paddlefest races at 7 a.m. Recreational paddlers can keep going until the set-up ends at 8:30 a.m. The 4.5-mile MINI Paddlefest ends at Public Landing in downtown Cincinnati, while the 9-mile paddle miles continues to Gilday Recreation Complex, 3540 Southside Avenue in Riverside.
Participants can use their own boats or rent a kayak with prior registration. Rental boats are limited and sell out before the event each year. Those heading to Gilday can enjoy the post-paddle Finish Line festival with music from The Sunburners, food trucks and MadTree beer. The festival ends at 2 p.m.
Registration for the 9-mile paddle is $65 for adults; $25 for youth (17 and under); the 4.5-mile paddle is $60 for adults; $20 for youth. Prices increase on August 1. Full pricing details are available on the Paddlefest website.
Paddlefest is hosted by and benefits Adventure Crew, a non-profit organization that connects inner city Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky teens with nature and each other through engaging outdoor adventures.
“Funds raised through Paddlefest help us get more of the city’s teens outside for recreational activities, like paddling.” Sage said. “So not only is Paddlefest a great time, it allows attendees to support a great cause – sharing their love of nature with teenagers who might not otherwise have access to it.”
St. Elizabeth Healthcare returns as title sponsor of Paddlefest in 2022. Event organizers are currently accepting additional sponsors. Visit www.ohioriverpaddlefest.org/sponsor for more information.