The annual Paddlefest is Friday and Saturday at Howard Amon Park in Richland.
Now in its ninth year, the Paddlefest is drawing a growing number of outdoor enthusiasts each year, said organizer Chris Vowels, owner of Columbia Kayak Adventures in Richland.
“It is held in the middle of May every year with the purpose of allowing people to see that paddling in our area is amazing,” Vowels said. “This area offers paddling at all different skill levels, and many see it as a solid all around fitness method.”
There are endless possibilities for enjoying nature using a muscle-powered boat on the Columbia, Snake or Yakima rivers, as well as at numerous lakes that are within a short drive of the Tri-Cities, he added.
The event comes on the heels of the grand opening of the Tapteal Water Trail, a three-year project to map the Yakima River with informational signs for boaters.
The full trail runs 30 miles from Benton City to Bateman Island. There are 12 trailheads along the way, with boards where boaters can stop and pick up a brochure that maps the route.
The Paddlefest features single person and double kayaks on site as well as various sizes of paddle boards for visitors to take out onto the Columbia to try, Vowels said.
But there are other aspects of paddle boating that make it a gratifying experience.
“Many love the fact you can get very close to wildlife without spooking them,” he added. “Others love the easy mobility on the water and view of the world from a different angle.”
Classes also will be available with certified instructors from the American Canoe and Kayak Association who also will demonstrate techniques on using paddle boards, kayaks or canoes.
There is no admission fee to the Paddlefest but the two-hour lessons are $20.
Classes are from 9 to 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. each day.
The lessons range from basic skills to different types of strokes and how to get safely back in the boat if it capsizes.
Visitors also can take more advanced classes that deal with rescues, rolling and more difficult paddling strokes, Vowels said.
“This is a sport for all ages and physical abilities,” he said.
-- Dori O’Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal