Vermont Business Magazine The Connecticut River Conservancy’s first-ever Riverfest Weekend kicks off Aug. 6 & 7 in Brattleboro and Hinsdale, highlighted by the 44th Annual New England Paddlesports Championship on Sunday. Riverfest promises family-friendly near-river and on-river activities bridging southwest New Hampshire with southeast Vermont.
On Sunday, The New England Paddlesports Championship (NEPC) 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, N.H. and Brattleboro-to-Vernon, Vt. The race, launching from Norm’s Marina, is part of the New England Canoe and Kayak Racing Association (NECKRA) Flatwater Point Series. www.neckra.org.
Saturday’s highlights include the Riff Raft Regatta, originally a summer crowd favorite at The Marina some years ago, which will be co-presented by Great Eastern Radio and the Connecticut River Conservancy. 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 (SUPs); fly-fish casting; a four-mile round-trip hike up Wantastiquet; a bike ride on the Fort Hill rail trail. And that’s not all: Brattleboro Museum & Art Center and River Gallery School, Southern Vermont Natural History Museum, the Brattleboro Historical Society, Insight Photography, and local and regional artists, among others, will offer activity stations at Riverfest Village, located opposite the train station in Brattleboro. Who doesn’t want to write a message to the river or make a river charm necklace or decorate a lamprey eel!
That’s not all: 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 greater Brattleboro’s history and its relationship to the river. Panelists include historian Joe Rivers, with former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee. For a full schedule of Saturday’s activities and the entire weekend, visit ctriver.org/news-events/nepc-riverfest.
On Sunday, along with the NEPC race, The Lampey Challenge, co-presented by the Brattleboro Reformer and CRC, offers 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 two-person traditional canoes. Teams will put in at Norm’s Marina for an 11 a.m. start in front of Whetstone Beer Co. on the Brattleboro side. There is an entry fee of $50 per boat, with the deadline to sign up by Aug. 1. To register, visit lampey-challenge-22.eventbrite.com.
According to organizers, “Riverfest has been designed to showcase the rich array of outdoor recreational options, the many benefits of healthy rivers, and the beauty of the region.”
All on-river activities will require life jackets. Organizers politely request that festival-goers leave their pets at home.
Sponsors include: Allagash Brewing Company, Whetstone Beer Co., NorthStar Vermont Yankee Decommissioning, Berkley & Veller Greenwood Country Realtors, Savings Bank of Walpole, REED & REED, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, Park Place Financial Advisors, The Richards Group, Latchis Hotel, and Integrated Solar.