Check out Aurora Paddlesport Festival!

By Tom Lindblade
President, Illinois Paddle Council

The 3rd Annual Aurora Paddlesports Festival (APF) is shaping up to be an exciting weekend of paddling fun for the general public and experienced paddlers alike. APF will run on the second weekend in June, Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year the Aurora Parks and Recreation Department has underwritten the costs of lessons for up to 250 students, and Illinois’ largest paddlesport retailer, Paddle and Trail, has offered major financial and programming support as APF’s first “Presenting Sponsor”.

A Confluence of quality and fun

Confluence Watersports has signed on as a Primary Sponsor of APF. This new partnership represents a true confluence of our interests to bring a high-quality experience of safe paddling fun to people with a passion for paddling. Confluence Watersports is a collection of unique watersports brands: Wilderness Systems®, Perception®, Dagger®, and Wave Sport® kayaks, Mad River Canoe®, Adventure Technology® paddles, Bomber Gear and Harmony® accessories. With a full line of canoes, and kayaks ranging from touring and recreational to high-performance whitewater boats, the Confluence brands can outfit any paddling enthusiast. So stop and say hello to the Confluence reps at APF, demo their boats and take advantage of Festival discounts and deals on this familiar family of paddling favorites.

APF Challenges YOU!

For many decades, Illinois and Midwest paddlers have been able to demonstrate their paddling skills, strength and excellence by competing in miles-long races on rivers. Now the Aurora Paddlesports Festival challenges experienced paddlers to compete and demonstrate paddling excellence in skills other than speed and endurance. Register to compete at the Registration Tent upon arrival at APF. Winners announced and prizes awarded after each competition. All entry fees not paid out in prizes support the APF Youth Paddling Program.

Roll For CASH and glory!

Whitewater and sea kayakers are some of the few humans who’ve ever lived on earth that are unsinkable in a small boat, IF they have a roll. IF YOU have a roll, you can be the King or Queen of the Roll for a year by winning the APF Kayakers Rolling Contest Challenge. The Rolling Contest begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday. $10 fee to enter, open to all with a roll. The most complete rolls in 2 minutes wins. Sea kayak and whitewater kayak classes, Men’s and Women’s divisions, 1st-place winners in each contest takes one-half the entry fee pot for that contest. Think you can win? Then get all your friends to enter to pump up the pot! Win cash, fame, some useful paddling goodies and bragging rights until next year’s APF while putting on a show for the crowds.

Paddler’s Challenge Course

But you don’t have to wear a skirt to demonstrate your paddling skills! Try the Paddler’s Challenge Course for fun or prizes. A combination sprint race and gates obstacle course will equally challenge short boaters, long boaters and everyone in between. Dust off your rusty cross-bow draw and tighten up your duffek, you’re gonna need ‘em! The Paddler’s Challenge begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday.  Compete for fun for $2 a try and get your time posted on the Leader Board and on the APF website for the next year. Or compete for cash and prizes for $10 a try and win cash, fame, some useful paddling goodies and bragging rights until next year’s APF while putting on a show for the crowds. Fastest time to complete the course wins. Any canoe or kayak welcome. No boat classes, men’s and women’s divisions only.  First place winner in each division takes one-half the entry fee pot for that division.

Road trip to the river

Whitewater kayakers can take a trip down the river to visit the newly-constructed and newly-named Marge Cline Whitewater Park in nearby Yorkville on Saturday afternoon. Ride the Paddle and Trail Shuttle Bus while your boat rides on the trailer for just $10 round trip. Paddle and play in the whitewater course from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and then return to APF in Phillips Park in plenty of time for the Saturday evening Paddler’s Rendezvous. Meet in the parking lot by the Prairie Paddling Film Fest pavilion at 1 p.m. to load your boat and sign a waiver. This trip is limited to 14 paddlers, so RSVP to Bob Menard at “bobmenard at” to save your seat on the bus.

Make it a weekend !

The Aurora Paddlesports Festival makes it easy to make a weekend out of it by offering free camping for festival visitors and volunteers on Friday and Saturday nights on the island in Mastodon Lake in Aurora’s beautiful Phillips Park. Wake to the sound of the Phillips Park Zoo’s wolf pack greeting the dawn. And if sleeping on the ground is not your cup ‘o’ tea, Aurora’s Comfort Suites Hotel is offering a Festival discount deal. Mention the Aurora Paddlesports Festival when you book and receive $40 off their best rate of $129/night. The deal includes a hot breakfast along with all of the hotel’s amenities like their heated indoor pool and complimentary high-speed Internet.

Party at the Paddlers Rendezvous

Saturday evening beginning at 6 p.m., the Illinois Paddling Council will host the APF “Paddlers Rendezvous” on the island in Mastodon Lake. Chef Rich Green of Aurora’s Comfort Zone Restaurant will be grilling his famous BBQ on-site and offering a choice of three BBQ dinners (bbq and two sides) and a vegetarian option (grilled portobello) for $8. Open to festival participants, exhibitors, sponsors and volunteers, the Paddler’s Rendezvous will be a great after-the-show party with blues music and new and old friends (and if you’re camping, you won’t need a designated driver to get you home).

APF Needs YOU!

Of course, none of this happens without the help of volunteers from the local paddling community. Help us grow APF into the major Midwest paddlesport event it can be.  Come for the fun, demos, free instruction, and Festival discounts, but volunteer for a couple hours to help us greet and register Festival visitors, test paddlers and students. We also need help from certified instructors and competent teaching assistants, and help running the Film Fest. If you can cover a shift for a couple hours, you’ll get a free lunch and some useful paddling goodies along with a deep sense of satisfaction and our gratitude. Volunteer at and Tracey Roveda, APF Volunteer Coordinator, will help you find a job you’ll enjoy.

Check the APF website at to pre-register for classes and camping. “Friend” us on Facebook for updates on the Festival, and to help us spread the word about APF. There’s lots more news about new sponsors, exhibitors and festival deals and discounts that we’ll be updating daily. So check the website often for news, tell your friends and family, and plan to attend the Third Annual Aurora Paddlesports Festival as we promote recreational paddling, excellent instruction, our community, club membership and safe paddling fun.

From the June 1-7, 2011 issue

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