PORTERDALE, Ga. - On Father’s Day, the City of Porterdale and Yellow River Water Trail organizers are celebrating the arrival of more than 200 participants in Georgia River Network’s Paddle Georgia event by throwing a party for the whole community.
The Paddle Georgia-Porterdale Pool Party on June 17 will feature live music from Scarlet Stitch, food vendors, and canoe tug-o-war contests in a giant portable pool erected in the historic Porterdale gymnasium.
The celebration is free and the community is invited to join the more than 200 canoeists and kayakers participating in the week-long, 86-mile journey down the Yellow and Ocmulgee rivers set for June 16-22.
The canoe tug-o-wars will highlight the event. In the contests, two canoes are tied end-to-end and teams in each boat attempt to paddle pull their opponents across the pool.
“If you’ve never experienced a canoe tug-o-war, you haven’t lived,” event organizer Tonya Bechtler said. “For spectators, it’s a real hoot. For paddlers, well, just expect to get wet.”
Registration for the canoe tug-o-wars will take place on site. Entry fee is $20 for each four-person, co-ed team with proceeds benefitting the Yellow River Water Trail. Prizes will be awarded to the winning team in a double-elimination-style tug-o-war tournament. For more entry registration information, contact Tonya Bechtler at 770-364-0911.
The Athens-based rock band Scarlett Stitch will perform on the Porterdale gymnasium stage. Nominated by the Georgia Music Awards for Best Rock Band, Scarlet Stitch prides themselves on their classic rock and roll drive that is completely interrupted by hints of outlaw country.
Food vendors include the Silver Queen Food Truck, Bullritos, and Bread and Butter, serving up everything from barbecued chicken quarters to chicken burritos and veggie wraps.
Festivities begin at 5 p.m. with free test rides of canoes and kayaks in the pool. Food vendors will begin serving at 5:30 p.m. with canoe tug-o-wars and music to follow from 6-9 p.m.
Paddle Georgia is regarded as the country’s largest week-long canoe/kayak camping journey. The event takes participants from Stone Mountain to Macon, with stops near Conyers, Porterdale, Jackson, Monticello and Forsyth. Paddlers, ranging in age from 2 to 82 and hailing from nine different states (and even Australia) will participate.
“We’re very excited about partying in Porterdale,” Gwyneth Moody, director of programs and outreach with Georgia River Network, said. “The fact that so many people from all over the country are gathering here shows that the Yellow River Water Trail and Porterdale are becoming paddling destinations.”
This is the 14th anniversary for Paddle Georgia. In the event’s first 13 years, GRN has introduced more than 4,500 paddlers to water trails on 13 Georgia rivers. Along the way the event has generated more than $400,000 for river protection. Altamaha Riverkeeper, Yellow River Water Trail and Ocmulgee River Water Trail will be the local groups benefitting from this year’s event.
Sponsors of the event include Hennessy Land Rover Centres; Cedar Creek RV and Outdoor Center; Nomadic Flow Outfitters; Cary Baxter, CPA; CYA Agency, Inc.; Oglethorpe Power; StreamTechs; Terry Pate, PC, CPA; China Clay Producers Association; Georgia Mining Association; Storm Water Systems; The Rain Barrel Depot; Patagonia; EarthShare of Georgia; Len Foote Hike Inn; and Friends of Georgia State Parks. Partners include American Canoe Association, Café Campesino, Altamaha Riverkeeper, Yellow River Water Trail, Ocmulgee River Water Trail, Georgia Canoe Association, Georgia Adopt-A-Stream and Project WET.