In 1912, the Tallulah River was dammed above Tallulah Falls, once known as the Niagara of the South, creating the nation’s first controlled river. What had been a major tourist attraction ceased to be until the mid-1990s when American Whitewater and other advocates worked with the power company to secure three weekends of release a year. The Tallulah became an instant classic, and is celebrated with unrestrained enthusiasm at Tallulah Fest, a weekend-long whitewater jamboree on the banks of the river.

The festival corresponds with the second of two spring dam releases, drawing paddlers from across the region and country – the festival has doubled in size each year since its inception. Along with paddling down the ancient, 1,000-feet deep Tallulah River Gorge, festival-goers delight in one of the wildest weekends in the South. Whitewater adventure films loop on huge screens, bluegrass blares through the night, and paddlers exchange war stories of the day’s activities and more around bonfires that burn through the morning. This year’s fest is headlined by Americana rocker Adam Hood and sponsors like Dagger, Jackson, Bomber Gear, and Immersion Research use the weekend’s dam release to test their prototypes and giveaway their latest. While the weekend is dedicated to paddling, camping, and good times, proceeds go to American Whitewater.

This year’s festival is happening this weekend, April 12-14, 2013 on the banks of the Tallulah River in Cohutta National Forest. A free shuttle will be provided from the put in/take out and new this year is a video contest that will determine the winner of a new Wave Sport Recon. Don’t miss one of the wildest whitewater events of the year.


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