It is one of the great outdoor ironies that the end of summer usually marks the beginning or the best of the kayaking season. This is a sport dedicated to water after all, and once Labor Day weekend comes and goes, the days get shorter and the temperatures drop. Getting on the water during the down slope of summer probably doesn’t appeal to everyone, but hardcore paddlers love the changing season because it marks the beginning of the major dam releases on some of the best rivers in the South and mid-Atlantic. These releases are a big deal, and draw paddlers from across the region, the nation, and the world to the banks of the river to test their skills against the rivers. Since the people will always come, river festivals have popped up around the release dates to organize the paddlers and add a bit of revelry and spectacle to the scene – as if paddlers need an excuse to revel. This weekend, one such festival is taking place on the shores of the Ocoee River in Tennesee, but the Ocoee Fest is not just about paddling, it’s also about music, good times, and beer – lots of it.
The long Labor Day Weekend is usually reserved for kicking back with a friends and family, celebrating the last gasps of summer, and possibly, maybe getting off your lazy butt at least once to ride a bike or get on the river. Well, at Ocoee Fest, you can do all of this and more. This year’s Ocoee Fest is highlighted by the first ever Ocoee Fest Home Brew Competition. Home brewers will come from across the Southeast to compete for the honor of being the tastiest brew on the river. Along with the home brew, Red Brick Brewing, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada and more will be on hand at the festival with their suds in tow. The festival will be capped on Sunday by the Beer Olympics with events like Beer Pong, Corn Hole, and Beersbie (whatever that is).
As for recreation, the festival is being held on the grounds of Adventures Unlimited in Ocoee, Tennesseee, ground zero for rafting, kayaking, hiking and biking in the area. Plus, paddlers have a reputation for partying hard, especially when they all get together, so that may be all the recreation you need. Plus, there will be music from local and regional bands throughout the weekend from Shark Week, The Whistle Pigs, Matt Woods, and more.
Rock Creek will also be on hand selling gear at discounts, and I’m sure giving away some swag as well. Tickets are a scant $20 for two days, including camping, which is the Labor Day deal of the century. So pack up the boat, tent, and bike, and head for Ocoee this weekend.