Last Saturday, June 25, the Kids of the Community Paddlefest was celebrated for the fourth year in a row. This annual event is held to raise money for Warren County’s Kids of the Community program, a nonprofit organization committed to bettering and positively influencing the lives of Warren County’s youth.
The inspiration for Paddlefest stems from the late Elizabeth Hoover, an avid nature lover who cherished Warren County and its rivers.
Paddlfest’s registration and race began on a gray and humid morning at Pepper Branch Park. The place buzzed with anticipating energy as main organizer Barry Dishman and McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley initiated the opening ceremony. Many of the contestants were experienced kayakers, however Smooth Rapids provided rentable kayaks for a discounted rate of $25 for those who did not own their own equipment, and every participant received a T-shirt at registration.
At 9 a.m., the kayak racers set off to the VFW’s boat ramp: the chosen end destination for the race. The terrain consisted of turbulent waters, babbling brooks, pesky stumps, and an abundance of verdant foliage. The race proved to be a close and intense competition.
At 1 hour, 25 minutes, Jason McVey finished first, and Chad Hale came in a close second with 1 hour, 30 minutes.
In the women’s division, Carrie Hale triumphed with a final time of 1 hour, 33 minutes, and Pam Pesevic completed the grueling race in 1 hour, 37 minutes to earn herself a second-place title. These individuals were awarded a monogramed, white kayak paddle.
Following the race’s conclusion, an after party was held outside the VFW in which all were welcome to attend and cherish a beautiful Saturday. A blue sky adorned with a smattering of cumulus and cirrus clouds served as a backdrop for the day’s festivities.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, and other refreshments were available. Local musicians performed in the sweltering heat with undeniable passion; and door prizes such as a 2016 Jackson Kayak (Riviera-Model) and an Orion 25 Forrest Camo Cooler were given away to lucky individuals.
Although Paddlefest is defined as a fundraiser, the atmosphere at the VFW resonated more as one of a close family barbeque. As Barry Dishman said, the KOTC Paddlefest goal was to “spread the joy” and it is safe to say that this goal was achieved.