Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Palmerfest May 14-15 2009

What would give away the fact that there was
some paddling event going on here?!

Palmerfest is a weekend of whitewater fun on the Madawaska river sponsored by Rapid Media. There is open canoe and kayak courses, live entertainment, food and drinks, a screening of paddling films, as well as exhibits and demos from various boat manufacturers, outfitters, and paddling organizations. Basically it boils down to one big whitewater paddling party, - I couldn't find any reason not to go! (other than the fact I always seem to find myself on canoe trips during this time of year) Well this time I was determined not to miss it and make sure I was there for the festivities, - and of course the paddling! So time was set aside, payments made and everything organized for the weekend, all I had to do was show up! Then the injury! (arghhhh!!)

The endless display of colour didn't end with boats -
it continued further on land with tents!

Plain and simple, people were at Paddlefest for the
whitewater! Okay,....to party too!

Of course I couldn't paddle. It was a no brainer. The injury was extensive - dislocation, fracture and torn rotator cuff. (no, it couldn't just be one, could it?!) Initially for the sake of my partner, I quickly gave up my spot so that he could find a replacement, - which he did, thank goodness. However, I really didn't want to stay home the long weekend. I was actually getting sick of being home due to the injury. So I spoke to Kelly at The Complete Paddler and wondered if they needed any help as they have a booth at Palmerfest. Initially they were fine, but a last minute drop-out paved the way for me to not only help them out, but attend the event as well! (finally some good news!)

Rob, Ben, Dimitry and Zeb ready to tackle some whitewater

The folks with The Complete Paddler: Steph,
Christa, Kelly and Deliah

When we arrived Friday night and saw endless cars lining the road, a plethora of colourful boats and tent city, I was all fired up. I was like a kid in a candy store! Despite knowing that I couldn't paddle, I still was excited! Once we finished unloading, the guys barely found enough space to pitch their tent. I lucked out bringing the Eureka Chrysalis, which is the hammock shelter I spoke about in an earlier post. It fit perfectly between two trees where no one would consider pitching a tent. (I'm already appreciating it!) We then walked around making ourselves familiar with the place. We could already sense the mood of the weekend when we were offered a beer at the Complete Paddlers tent, then a Margarita at the Level Six tent (more on this later) - thank goodness I came!!!

It literally was a sea of tents! Reminiscent
of Woodstock?

The next morning we were greeted with rain, which made it hard to get out of our warm sleeping bags. As well as falling asleep fairly late due to all the restless paddlers staying up till the wee hours of the morning. (trust me, if you can't sleep with noise, this place is not for you!) Rain continued unabated while we had breakfast under the tarp and the general mood to paddle was understandably subdued as it was also fairly chilly. But given the choice, I would much rather paddle then watch paddlers. So the boys donned their cold gear and bravely marched on.

A stampede of boats and paddlers came to the
waterfront at the start of the courses.
Get out of the way!

I spent the day under the Complete Paddler tent helping to sell lots of neoprene gloves, as many paddlers didn't think it would be this cold. Judging by the pool that was noticeably getting larger infront of the tent, it was actually nice to be warm and dry watching chilled paddlers slosh by. (maybe it wasn't so bad not paddling this weekend?) It was also a nice opportunity to meet other vendors, exhibitors, and paddlers during the lulls while the courses were going on. I also helped out later on when The Complete Paddler and Level Six hosted a contest to give away tons of prizes including a sweet new Salus Whitewater PFD called the Jazz. The idea was to toss a throwbag into a nearly erect kayak and to lodge it on the seat, - it was not easy, nor was dodging the errant throwbags aimed my way!

Oh yes, the Eureka Chrysalis hammock - the most comfortable
sleep I've ever had in a shelter, period!

Later in the afternoon the rain stopped and the sun actually appeared. It set the stage for the rest of the evening as we enjoyed a delicious catered supper while a live band was hammering out tunes. Once the taps started flowing and the coolers were opened, a boisterous party ensued. I find paddlers in general to be happy people - throw in drinks and good music it just takes it up a notch. (or two!) Such as Matt from Level Six who had rigged up a bike to power a blender to make Margarita's! The only thing was someone had to peddle the bike to mix the drink and crush the ice. Not that there was a lack of volunteers - especially when it included a free drink! Let me tell you, not only was the set-up ingenious, the drinks tasted great. (somehow I kept finding myself around that tent?!) It was awesome to see everyone socializing and having a good time. Its exactly what I expected and was thankful to Kelly to have me here rather than at home!

Steve, another Complete Paddler staffer showing
off some moves in his C1

He looks way too comfortable!

The next morning was freezing. It may have dipped below zero as people noted some snowflakes in the early morning. Probably a good thing, - people needed a shock to get awake. (I barely got 4 hours!) However, the cold was enough to convince many to pack it up for the weekend including a few in our group. I don't blame them. A cold dry suit is one thing, getting into a practically frozen wetsuit is another! Kudos to Ben, - he was literally in tears getting into his! Time was spent in the afternoon taking some action shots of people running the rapid at Jessop's (while salivating) and then heading back to camp to pack up with everyone else. The weekend may have been bittersweet not being able to paddle but I left with only good memories. I met some amazing people and even made some new friends, besides having a great time. This was enough for me to guarantee I will definitely be back next year! Hopefully to paddle!!!

Ben and Dimitry tackling the run at Jessop's rapid

Its all smiles folks!!!
(Usually! lol!)

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