Paddlefest events to connect Tristate with the outdoors, promote healthy living


Part of Green Umbrella’s mission is to promote outdoor recreation and nature awareness for kids of all ages, and there’s no better example than the nonprofit’s annual Paddlefest, which returns June 18-20.
 
June 18 is the Paddlefest Kids Expo, 9:30 a.m-4:30 p.m. at Coney Island. The free event is divided into four villages: Let’s Splash, Let’s Be Green, Let’s Explore and Let’s Move. Each village teaches life skills that include everything from catching your first fish to how to paddle a raft and how to recycle and compost.
 
“It’s a chance to families to unplug from the digital world and plug into nature,” says Brewster Rhoads, the outgoing executive director of Green Umbrella.
 
Kids get passports and, if they get stamps from 10 different activities, receive a jump rope to take home. Rhoads says that at the end of the day each kid walks about 1.5 miles and goes home tired and excited about the world around them.
 
“This is all part of helping to grown the next generation of environmental stewards,” he says. “It also brings up adults’ awareness of the most important natural resource and helps boost Cincinnati’s green footprint.”
 
The Ohio River Music & Outdoor Festival is June 19 at Coney Island and provides Paddlefest participants an opportunity to register for the event and drop off their boat. The free event will also include boat demos, a gear swap, a kayak fishing tournament and live music. Bands go on at 5 p.m. and will play until midnight; featured acts include Rumpke Mountain Boys, The Hot Magnolias, Jake Speed & the Freddies, Michela Miller and East of Vine.
 
The 14th Annual Ohio River Paddlefest is June 20 and is open to paddlers of all skill levels, from the recreational paddler to the competitive racing paddlers. It’s the largest paddling event in the United States, with about 2,000 people working down the Ohio River together.
 
“This event gives people a personal and intimate experience with the Ohio,” Rhoads says. “It draws attention to the region’s biggest asset and helps bust myths about the river. People think the Ohio is dangerous and dirty, but during the event they realize it’s cleaner and safer than they imagined.”
 
Paddlefest has grown from a four-hour event to an eight-mile, three-day event for adults and kids. The event begins at Coney Island, stops at Smith Field and ends at the Public Landing downtown. There’s a shuttle at the end of the route that will take participants back to their vehicles.
 
Registration is $35 per person, and everyone gets a T-shirt. You can register for Paddlefest here.
 
For more outdoor recreation activities and events around the Tristate this summer, visit meetmeoutdoors.com.
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.  
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