Sign-ups open for ’23 Paddlefest

Registration for Ohio River Paddlefest 2023 is now open.

Local nonprofit Adventure Crew will host the nation’s largest paddling event, now in its 22nd year, on Aug. 5. Adventure Crew’s increasingly popular Outdoors for Expo, a free community event celebrating all things outdoors, will kick off Paddlefest weekend on Aug. 4.

Paddlefest founder Brewster Rhoads

“Between Ohio River Paddlefest and the Outdoors for All Expo, Paddlefest weekend has become a can’t-miss event for outdoor enthusiasts,” said Miriam Wise, director of support and engagement for Adventure Crew.

Paddlefest brings 2,000 paddlers in kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards to the Ohio River each August. Participants can choose between two distances to paddle the Ohio, which will be closed to motorized traffic, making the event accessible to paddlers of all skill levels. The nine-mile paddle ends with a Finish Line Festival, featuring music by The Sunburners, food trucks and MadTree beer, at Gilday Recreation Complex in Riverside. For a shorter adventure, the 4.5-mile Paddlefest MINI finishes at the Public Landing in downtown Cincinnati. Both paddling routes start at Schmidt Recreation Complex, 2944 Humbert Ave. in the East End.

Friday night’s pre-party, the Outdoors for All Expo, is free and open to the public. The event has grown to feature some 50 exhibitors, including local parks, outdoor outfitters, adventure experts and environmentally minded organizations. With hands-on demos, live music, raffles, MadTree beer and food trucks, there are activities to engage attendees of all ages. This year’s Expo runs from 4-9:30 p.m. at Schmidt Recreation Complex. Organizations interested in exhibiting can apply on the event website.

New to the weekend is a kayak bass fishing tournament spanning both Friday and Saturday that lets anglers compete for prizes and bragging rights while fishing any of three tributaries of the Ohio: Great Miami River, Licking River or Little Miami River. More details on the tournament will be shared on the event website.

For Saturday morning’s Paddlefest, participants can use their own boats, or they can rent them with advance registration. (Those wishing to rent a boat should sign up early: Rental boats are limited and sell out every year.)

Registration is now open. Early bird pricing (available through April 30) for the 9-mile paddle is $50 for adults; $25 for youth (17 and under); the 4.5-mile paddle is $45 for adults; $20 for youth. Full pricing details are available on the Paddlefest website.

Paddlefest is organized by and benefits Adventure Crew, a nonprofit that, since 2013, has connected 1,000 city teens in 25 Greater Cincinnati schools with nature and each other through engaging outdoor adventures.

Paddlefest organizers are currently accepting sponsorships for the event.

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