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High water celebrated at 54th derby

NORTHCREEK-The high water of the Hudson River kept some paddlers away from the 54th Annual White Water Derby last weekend, but gave others quite the ride.

Numbers were down, according to event organizer Kate Nightingale. Thirty-five boats entered the slalom race in North River, while 32 boats competed in the down-river race between North Creek and Riparius.

Nightingale attributes the numbers to people steering clear of the unusually high water this year.

"People who chose not to race for safety reasons probably made a sound choice," she said.

During past derby weekends, the Hudson has flowed around five feet. This past weekend, however, the water was up around eight feet, making for some treacherous rapids, but also covering up a lot of rocks and debris.

Nightingale took appropriate precautions to add more safety rafts and personnel as well as altered Sunday's course. She moved the course to river right to avoid some of the more challenging parts of the river, while still keeping the course technical.

Overall, Nightingale was pleased with how the weekend turned out.

"My volunteers were great," she said. "And everything went well. I look forward to next year."

In her second year at the helm of the derby, she plans to continuing organizing the event for years to come.

Sharing in the success of the historic White Water Derby, the 2nd Annual Adirondack Adventure Festival grew from last year.

The adventure festival was planned through a cooperative effort of the derby committee and the Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce to encourage derby participants and spectators to enjoy the offerings of North Creek while in town for the event.

"Running the two events together was a great idea and we are seeing more spectators for the races because of it," said Nightingale.

The adventure festival offered a range of activities from scenic mountain bike rides to activities for children and saw and increase in their numbers from last year, according to event organizer Dave Bulmer.

"It's going to be a slow process, but we are seeing improvement," he said. "What we aimed to do with the two events is happening and more people are finding their way into town during race weekend."

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