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Fundraiser floats its way to successful first year
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The 25 kayakers who competed in Saturday’s Paddlefest might have been paddling too fast to notice the beautiful scenery as they sped down the Barren Fork and Collins rivers. The 90 floaters, however, surely did notice thanks to the sunshine which added a nice backdrop to the gorgeous setting for the first Paddlefest held as a fundraiser for Kids of the Community.
First and second place winners in the over 18 male and female and under 18 male and female categories received kayak paddles that had been turned into trophies.
Jeremy Smith of Murfreesboro finished the race which began at Pepper Branch Park and ended at the VFW in one hour and 45 minutes.
“The river was perfect,” said Smith. “The course was strenuous. I was hoping the guy in second place would slow down so I could rest a little. I kept looking over my shoulder but he never slowed down.”
Asked if he would race here again, Smith said, “Absolutely I’d do it again. I am planning on racing in a 6-miler in Nashville soon. I thought this was great.”
Local resident Chris O’Neal placed second in the men’s competition. “I had him in my sight,” said O’Neal of the winner. “He never stopped so I never did either. It was a close race. Kayaking as a sport is really taking off.”
Two McMinnville residents placed first and second in the women’s race. Carrie Hale placed first with Pamela Pescevic taking second.
Hale said the race was “cool” while Pescevic added, “It was awesome and fun.”
David Haycox won the under-18 male competition in which Anthony Mendez placed second.
The under-18 female competition was very close. Ali Acosta and Caitlynn Arnold both paddled to the side of the river at about the same time. It was Acosta who first crossed the finish line located at the top of the boat ramp.
 Floaters took much longer to reach the end of the course. Some were still floating the river well into Saturday afternoon. Several couples used the day to leisurely float the river and spend quality time together.
 Kids of the Community volunteer Judge Bill Locke said, “We have lots of people here today. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. I think we had a great turnout for our first time. It will be even bigger and better next year.”