Photos

Kayakers take to Ohio River for Paddlefest

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Wayne Towner A group of kayakers and canoers start off from Point Park on Saturday morning to paddle to Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park during the second annual Parkersburg Paddlefest. The Ohio River was closed to motorized craft for five hours Saturday morning to accommodate the paddlers.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Wayne Towner
A group of kayakers and canoers start off from Point Park on Saturday morning to paddle to Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park during the second annual Parkersburg Paddlefest. The Ohio River was closed to motorized craft for five hours Saturday morning to accommodate the paddlers.

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — About 60 brightly colored kayaks with a few canoes paddled the Ohio River between Point Park and Blennerhassett Island on Saturday morning during a period free of barges or motorboats.

The second annual Parkersburg Paddlefest was held Saturday on the Ohio River after the U.S. Coast Guard closed the Ohio River between the Point and the park for five hours Saturday.

The Parkersburg Paddlefest was organized by Lapping the Couch Adventure to bring together paddlers and those interested in paddling the Ohio River free of motorized traffic. Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park arranged for primitive camping on the island for the event.

Over 40 kayaks and canoes started off together from Point Park at 8 a.m. Saturday, while others came along later in the morning during the no-motorcraft period to participate in the paddle event.

Megan Guyonguyosi, of Parkersburg, was paddling with her father, Tom, during Saturday’s event. They learned about the event and decide to give it a try. They normally paddle together in a pair of kayaks and Saturday’s event was their first group event.

“I think it was awesome, it was a beautiful day and the island was nice and empty so we got to explore with just a few people on it. It was a great day,” she said, adding she hopes to participate in the event in the future.

Scott and Kelly Martin, of Belpre, were also among the paddlers participating in Saturday morning’s event. It was their first time at Parkersburg Paddlefest and they liked the event.

“We like to kayak and we’re in a kayaking club but it’s centered over in Chillicothe (Ohio),” Scott said. “Usually to go to kayaking events like this, we have to go two hours away … This is one of the first things that’s been organized for around the Parkersburg area.”

The Martins said Saturday’s event on the Ohio River marked the biggest river or stream they’ve been on for kayaking, with their previous largest being the Muskingum River. They enjoyed the event and would like to come back in the future, especially if the Paddlefest continues its policy of seeking approval to close the river for a few hours to motor traffic.

“It was fun to kind of feel like you had the river to yourself,” Kelly said.

“That’s what I liked about it,” Scott agreed. “They shut down the navigation traffic so you could go right in the middle of the river. That’s something you couldn’t do if you came out here normally and kayaked the Ohio.”

Kelly said it was also safer for some paddlers, especially those who use sit-on-top kayaks, since waves from barges and big vessels can cause tipping concerns.

The Martins also enjoyed the opportunity to stop on Blennerhassett Island, walk around the island and view its attractions, something they’ve done before but not for several years, they said.

If interest in paddling grows, the Martins said they would like to see some groups or organizations start in the Parkersburg area for people who share the paddling passion and could go in groups to area rivers, streams and lakes.

As the final kayaks and canoes were returning to Point Park on Saturday afternoon, Paddlefest organizer John Wiseman described the day’s event as “fantastic.”

“We took our time getting out and making sure everyone was on the same page with the safety aspect of the paddle. The weather was super, we had a little wind on the way back but it was at the paddlers’ backs and probably helped them coming back” to Point Park, he said.

“I’m seeing some smiles, I’m seeing some tired people. That’s what we’re after, everybody went out and got some good exercise and came back with an experience,” Wiseman said Saturday afternoon as the river prepared to re-open to all traffic.

Wiseman said organizers are already making plans for next year, including continuing to work with the Parkersburg/Wood County Convention and Visitors Bureau to make people aware of the event. They are also looking at other things can be done in connection with the event. A small night paddle was held Friday night and he would like to see that grow, along with other activities.

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