Kicking off the third annual Upper Ottawa River Race and Paddle Festival
Organizers of the Upper Ottawa River Race and Paddle Festival (from left): City of Pembroke recreation programmer Elijah McKeown, Town of Petawawa parks and recreation manager Kelly Williams, City of Pembroke economic development officer Heather McConnell, Town of Petawawa recreation coordinator Colin Coyle, Town of Petawawa recreation programmer Shallan Dament, and Town of Petawawa economic development officer Cyndy Phillips.
PETAWAWA & PEMBROKE – The Ottawa River will heavy with traffic this weekend as over 150 paddlers will racing between Pembroke and Petawawa for the third Upper Ottawa River Race and Paddle Festival.
Organized in partnership through the City of Pembroke and the Town of Petawawa, the weekend of activities will be held at both Petawawa Point and Pembroke Riverside Park form Aug. 11 to 13.
The festival kicked off on Friday morning at Petawawa Point with ‘Reel, Kayaks and Real Heroes’. This new event served to introduce ill and injured military personnel and veterans to the sport of kayak fishing as a therapeutic recreational activity that can aid them with their recoveries.
“This this year was our first year and it was a sunny day on the beach and went fairly well. We provided a whole morning of kayak angling and instruction to veterans who have interest in that type of activity,” said Kelly Williams, manager of parks and recreation with the Town of Petawawa.
Later that night, festival goers gathered at Riverside Park for the free ‘Reel Paddling Film Festival’ to watch various paddling-themed movies in the beautiful outdoors and under the stars.
“Some films are two minutes in length while others are maybe 20 to 30 minutes. They’re all different subject matters but all themed around paddling and that people will enjoy,” said Williams.
At 7 a.m. on Saturday, 25 registrants will conjoin at Petawawa Point to kick off the kayak-fishing derby that will go on until noon. Thereafter, top finishers in each category will be awarded with prizes at a lunchtime ceremony at Riverside Park.
By 9:30 a.m., over 150 paddlers will be stretching, getting their feet wet and gearing up for the official river races. The longest race – at 13 milometers – will kick off right at 9:30 a.m. at Petawawa Point Beach. The four kilometre race will follow at Riverside Park at 11 a.m. Finally, the kids’ races will take place at 1:3- p.m. at Riverside Park. All races will involve a mixture of vessels that will include canoes,, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Top finishers will be awarded with prizes that were donated from a number of local sponsors.
“Pretty much any paddle crafts are welcome and they are divided into categories according to age, type of vessel and length of vessel,” said Williams. “We have over 150 registrants with people coming from all parts of Eastern Ontario and some from the United States.”
After a long day of paddling, racers and non-racers alike will be invited to the Ottawa Valley Backyard Barbecue catered by Schmits’s Catering. The menu will feature barbecue ribs, barbecue chicken, salads and vegetarian options. While everyone rests and relaxes, live music will be provided by Groove Commute, Cody Labombard and Craig Cardiff.
Moving into Sunday, the final day of the festival, Paddle for CHEO will be kicking up some waves at Petawawa Point Beach. People of all ages – including local politicians – have teamed up to bring the great water community together to raise funds for CHEO. The friendly races – with a five kilometre, 12 kilometre and celebrity race – will involve stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes. All funds raised will help CHEO to provide a wide variety of paediatric programs, research, state-of-the-art equipment, medical and nursing education, and assistance for families in crisis.