Riverfest Weekend to make a splash
BRATTLEBORO - The Connecticut River Conservancy’s first-ever Riverfest Weekend will kick off Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7, in Brattleboro and Hinsdale, NH, highlighted by the 44th annual New England paddlesports championship on Sunday. Riverfest promises family-friendly near-river and on-river activities.
Highlights for Saturday, August 6, will include the Riff Raft Regatta, originally a summer crowd favorite at The Marina some years ago. Participants are invited to build a “hope-it-will-float” raft to compete in a 50-yard sprint. Registrants will enter the river from the Brattleboro-to-Hinsdale Island to a starting line upstream of Whetstone Brook and Whetstone Station restaurant and race to the Anna Hunt Marsh bridge - or sink. A number of prizes will be offered in various categories. Life jackets will be required for all. The first 10 teams to register for the Riff Raft Regatta will be entered race day to qualify for a $100 gift certificate drawing from Sam’s. Vessels must make it to the starting line to be entered into the Sam’s drawing. The first craft to pass below the Anna Hunt Marsh bridge will be awarded Riff Raft Regatta champion. See the guidelines and register at riff-raft-regatta-22.eventbrite.com.
Folks also are invited to sign up for guided and independent opportunities to try canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards; fly-fish casting; a 4-mile round-trip hike up Wantastiquet; and a bike ride on the Fort Hill rail trail. Brattleboro Museum and Art Center and River Gallery School, Southern Vermont Natural History Museum, the Brattleboro Historical Society, In-Sight Photography, and local and regional artists, among others, will offer activity stations at Riverfest Village, located opposite the train station in Brattleboro. Write a message to the river or make a river charm necklace or decorate a lamprey eel.
Latchis Theater will host river-related talks with painter Benny Merns, poet-editor Mike Fleming, journalist Maddy Bodin, and nature writer and fly fisherman Reid Bryant, along with a panel on local history and its relationship to the river. Panelists will include historian Joe Rivers with former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee. For a full schedule activities visit ctriver.org/news-events/nepc-riverfest.
On Sunday, August 7, the New England paddlesports championship will welcome racers from across the Northeast. Canoes, kayaks, surf skis, and stand-up paddleboards will have separate race classes. Although this marks the 44th year NEPC has been held on the Connecticut River between southern Vermont and New Hampshire, this is only the second time competitors will paddle the waters in this stretch of river between Hinsdale, NH, and Brattleboro-to-Vernon. The race, launching from Norm’s Marina, is part of the New England Canoe and Kayak Racing Association Flatwater Point series.
Along with the NEPC race on Sunday, the Lampey Challenge will offer the opportunity to compete in a 1-mile, single-lap, two-person canoe race. Although traditional canoe teams can also participate in the recreation length of the NEPC race, the Lampey is only for traditional, two-person canoes. Teams will put in at Norm’s Marina for an 11 am start in front of Whetstone Beer Company. There is an entry fee of $50 per boat with the deadline to sign up by Monday, August 1. To register visit lampey-challenge-22.eventbrite.com. All on-river activities will require life jackets. Organizers politely request that festival-goers leave their pets at home.