For the third year in a row, DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation will host Paddlefest starting at 9 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 24, at Delaware Seashore State Park.
Created to celebrate the area’s wildlife-rich salt marshes, as well as the park’s 50th anniversary in 2017, Paddlefest is now an annual event due to popular demand. Last year, 200 paddlers participated, and park staff are anticipating up to 300 paddlers this year.
The event last year was geared toward experienced kayakers, as the course meanders through four miles of salt marsh creeks where factors like heat, wind and tide can present real challenges. A much shorter, family-friendly course has been added this year to accommodate paddlers of all abilities. Park staff will be stationed around both courses to discuss wildlife and local history, and to provide emergency assistance if needed.
Paddlers are invited to attend an after-party from 12 to 4 p.m. at the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum.
“The last two years of this event were so positive that it left everyone wanting more,” said Laura Scharle, interpretive programs manager. “We had a food truck in previous years, but we felt like we needed a bigger celebration after a long paddle, so this year we’ve lined up more food options, a beer vendor, live music, and a variety of activities and exhibitors.”
Food from the Sea Hogg Street Eats and Uncle John’s Smokehouse food trucks plus beer from Big Oyster Brewery will be available for purchase. Live music will be provided by Blind Wind. Various vendors and exhibitors will be at the party, such as a live animal exhibit through DNREC Fish & Wildlife, guided stretching and yoga for post-paddling relaxation, a DIY wooden kayak exhibit from Chesapeake Light Craft, information on Delaware Sea Grant’s new Paddle Coastal Delaware website, and more. Paddlefest T-shirts will be available to participants on a limited basis.
Advance reservations are required, and the fee is $25 per person to participate in the full course, or $15 for the family course. Participants may bring their own kayaks, or they may rent from Coastal Kayak in Fenwick Island.
For more information, go to www.facebook.com/delawareseashorestatepark/events or call the Indian River Life-Saving Station at 302-227-6991.