Getting down at the Cheat River Festival. Photo: Gabe DeWitt
Our annual Festival Guide is out, marking both the official beginning of festival season and the beginning of paddling season. Sure, the hardest of the core never stop getting after it on the river, but for the layperson, things don’t begin to heat up on the water until the air heats up to a tolerable temperature. The first weekend in May is usually around the time most are comfortable enough to get back on the water. Luckily for us, that is perfect timing as the Cheat River Festival is held on the first weekend in May, and has been for the past 17 years.
The annual Cheat River Festival is held on the banks of the Cheat in Albright, West Virginia and is organized by the Friends of the Cheat organization. The FOC’s mission statement is “to restore, preserve, and promote the outstanding natural qualities of the Cheat watershed,” and the festival is a large part of that effort. Not only is the fest the largest fundraiser of the year for the FOC, it is also an opportunity for the community to learn about the river and its watershed. The organization sets up booths to educate festival goers of the issues concerning the river, as well as other non-profits that share the FOC vision. Over the past few years, the kids tent has been growing in popularity, hosting hands-on, educational activities aimed at having fun while learning something as well. There is also a climbing wall and tie-dying so bring a t-shirt. Did I mention kids under 12 get in free?
For the big kids, there is a 5k foot race and the classic Cheat Canyon “Mass-Occurrence” Downriver Race, plus live music all day long, a silent auction, and art vendors on hand. The festival opens at noon and runs to 11pm on Saturday, May 4th. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for a scant $15.