Beginning as an online community for canoe, kayak, and stand up paddle board (SUP) enthusiasts, Cape Breton Paddlefest will be organiziing the 1st Annual Cape Breton Paddlefest from Friday, September 16, to Sunday, September 18, just in time to celebrate the Bras d’Or Lakes’ designation as the newest UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The weekend event will combine paddling skills and safety clinics, retail of paddling gear, guided tours, and time for networking and socializing in a setting, in the words of their Facebook page, “which is steeped in history and brimming with wildlife and natural beauty.”
On Friday, participants will sign in at the Bras d’Or Lakes Inn, St. Peter’s, between 5 pm to 7 pm. Rising Tide Expeditions will present a slide show followed by a social from 8 pm to midnight for those 19 years and older, also at the Bras d’Or Lakes Inn, with musical entertainment by Krista MacKinnon and Jay Luddington.
The first event on Saturday morning is a breakfast welcome at the St. Peter’s Lions’ Hall at 8 am. This event will include a welcoming address by a representative of the Municipality of Richmond and a guest speaker from the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Association on the UNESCO designation.
At 9:30 am, the Paddlefest Parade will travel through the St. Peter’s Canal to the Marina. A number of events will take place: from 9:30 am until 12:30 pm, there will be information sessions covering all kinds of techniques for Canoe Beginner, Kayak Beginner, Canoe Intermediate, and Kayak Intermediate followed by a social paddle on St. Peter’s Bay.
The Paddlefest Expo takes place at the Marina from 10 am to 4 pm (with a break for lunch from 12:30 pm to 2 pm). Bill Danielson, author of Cape Breton Weather, will be the guest speaker at the Paddlefest Dinner at the Lions Hall at 6 pm which is followed (at the same venue) at 9 pm by a dance with music by My Dog Sam for those over 19 years old.
Sunday, September 18, is the final day of activities at the St. Peter’s Marina with sessions on topics for Intermediate Canoe and Kayak: Paddling in Wind & Waves; Intermediate Surf Kayaking (at Point Michaud Beach); and Not Getting Lost: Learning to Navigate with Maps and Charts for Paddlers (conducted on safe dry land). Paddlefest wraps at 12 noon.
Cape Breton Paddlefest will be held rain or shine so participants are advised to come prepared with appropriate foul-weather gear.