Island Paddle Fest returns to the Columbus Riverwalk Saturday, June 2 with added racing categories, a pre-party, music, food and prizes. This 5.5-mile race for kayakers, canoers and paddleboarders benefits Lowndes County Imagination Library, a nonprofit early literacy initiative that sends a free book every month to children from birth to age 5 in Lowndes County who are signed up.
Now in its third year, Paddle Fest is expanding with additional options for those in search of serious competition or just good fun, said Lindsey Beck, coordinator of Lowndes County Imagination Library and Paddle Fest.
“We’ve added two new racing categories for extra excitement,” Beck said. “If you’re very competitive, we’ve created a separate category for racing kayaks — and if you’re just in it for the fun, we now have a ‘fun paddle.'”
Participants will be met on shore with music, food and raffle prizes and can also look forward to a party pontoon that will follow paddlers around “The Island” as they race just west of downtown Columbus.
“Registrants are also invited to a pre-paddle party to be held the night before the race,” Beck added. “They may purchase a $5 raffle ticket at the party for a chance to win a cool trip to Bear Creek Lakes in Alabama.”
Paddle Fest has also partnered with Holiday Inn Express this year for a special group rate for participants.
Calling all paddlers
Paddle Fest categories include Men’s and Women’s Kayak; Men’s and Women’s Racing Kayak; Men’s and Women’s Canoe; Men’s and Women’s Paddleboard; Tandem Paddle; and Fun Paddle.
Entry fee is $40 per paddler in all categories except Fun Paddle, which is $20 (no trophy). Children under 18 must have an adult sign a waiver in order to ride alone.
Registration by May 19 in all categories except the Fun Paddle comes with a guaranteed T-shirt. Shirts will also be available for purchase on site for $10.
Check-in begins at 7 a.m. June 2. Races begin at 8 a.m. Register at islandpaddlefest.org.
“This is a BYOB– Bring Your Own Boat — event, so don’t forget to bring your canoe, kayak or paddleboard,” Beck said. Life vests are required.
Anyone wishing to volunteer, provide materials for paddler swag bags or be a Paddle Fest sponsor may email Beck at email@example.com or call 662-319-7136.
Lowndes County Imagination Library is an affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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