Paddlefest returns to Old Forge

WEBB - The 13th annual Adirondack Paddlefest will be held at Route 28 on May 20-22. Hosted by the local Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company, the event is expected to draw thousands of people. Admission is $5 per day with children 12 and under free.

"It's now one of the biggest on-water canoe and kayak expos in the country," said Bill Reynolds, marketing director of MOSC.

Attendees will be given the chance to try out more than 20 brands, which include hundreds of models, of boats at the event, Reynolds said. There will be a number of free educational activities, including lectures and paddling demonstrations. Additionally there will be classes that will require a small entrance fee.

Prior to the creation of the event, individual boat companies would pick separate days to demo their products, Reynolds said. The founder of MOSC, John Nemjo, had the idea of scheduling them all in one weekend. So Adirondack Paddlefest was born.

Mike Farmer, the tourism director in the town of Webb, said there was a 60 to 70 percent occupancy rate in local lodging the weekend of the event.

"We don't fill the town, but we almost fill it," Farmer said.

He estimated Adirondack Paddlefest attracts 3,000 to 3,500 people. Farmer partially attributed its success to a lack of competing events.

"It's a kick-off for summer before everything gets into full swing," Farmer said.

Reynolds said regional flooding would have no effect on the event.

Classes include Tandem Canoe Paddling, Basic Kayak Strokes, Kid's Kayak, Intro to Whitewater Kayaking, Women's Approach to Paddling, Understanding Boat Control, Paddle Making Class. All classes cost $20, except for Kid's Kayak, which costs $15, and Paddle Making, which costs $100. For a full list of times, please visit http://www.mountainmanoutdoors.com.

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