MEC's 2009 Paddlefest was a big resounding success with over 800 people attending the event! Of course that doesn't include all the people passing through the venue at Sunnyside Park as it is a popular weekend destination. The weather of course plays a big part, but thankfully other than some overcast skies on Sat morning, the weather was beautiful and the place was filled with lots of sun-worshippers and paddlers!
The great thing about the event was that it catered to such a diverse group of new and experienced paddlers. The gamut of paddlers ranged from curious little tikes, new immigrants, Big Sisters and even a young (very) fit team of Asian dragon boaters. Its at events like this that I'm really thrilled to see so many people's keen interest in paddling sports. Especially more so this year since I had the opportunity to teach two land and water courses. Its hard to explain the sense of joy I get when I've helped people paddle or provided valuable information and to see them smile with acknowledgement or offer their sincere thanks.
Photo: Norman Javier
Photo: Norman Javier
MEC had multitude of courses that people could sign up for, but many were filled when registration was opened weeks ago, but it certainly didn't mean people couldn't get on the water if they weren't signed up. The Complete Paddler booth (where I also helped out at) provided dozens of boats - various types of kayaks, canoes and paddle boards for the general public to demo. Since it was free, the response was amazing from all the participants and people passing through. It was busy and hectic at times, but ultimately it was lots of fun seeing them off on the water. If you didn't make it out this year, make sure to attend next year! The combination of cheap courses, lots of expert instruction, and so much great demos and information makes it a weekend outing that shouldn't be missed!
Kudos to Liz and Marc for all their hard work for organizing the Toronto MEC Paddlefest. Also a big thanks to the sponsors/organizations that provided prizes to my Canoe Routes course - Kelly McDowell from The Complete Paddler, Mark Smith from Chrismar Maps, Dave Sproule from Ontario Parks, Jim Stevens from Eureka and Kevin Callan. And one last thanks to my co-instructors, Sharon from MEC Burlington and Molly from Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Center. I guarantee I'll be there next year! - see you all then!