Kayak and canoe festival to promote theme of "buy local"

An inaugural kayak and canoe festival to be held in April in Columbia County was inspired by a similar event, shown here, in Hayward, Wis.

Kristina Williams sees Benderdinker as a simple celebration of locality.


“We did it in Wisconsin, but on a smaller scale,” she said of the upcoming kayak, canoe and music festival in Columbia County that will promote the concept of “buying local” while benefiting a homegrown food consortium and nonprofit groups.

Scheduled for April 28 at Riverside Park in Evans, the event will include a leisurely, three-hour paddle along a six-mile loop that includes Betty’s Branch and Germany Island on the Savannah River.

Along the route will be live bluegrass music and other entertainment, along with samples of local foods and drinks – all aboard boats, she said.

“It’s not a race, just a paddle – the idea is just to have fun,” she said.

After the paddle, a festival will continue at the park, with demonstrations on kayak fishing, paddling and other events, along with booths featuring local foods and artisans and a pig pickin’ by chef Edward Mendoza of Kitchen 1454.

The event is organized by Westbrook Securities & Augusta Locally Grown, she said, and all the proceeds after expenses will be shared by Augusta Locally Grown, Columbia County Cares food bank, Savannah Riverkeeper and children who want to attend Camp Sweet Life, a new camp for kids with type 1 diabetes.

Registration for the paddle event is $25, with kayak and canoe rentals available for an extra fee. The festival at the park, which will begin at noon, is free.

A similar celebration has been held in Hayward, Wis., with great success, Williams said, and she said the Columbia County celebration has the potential to grow and promote the area’s natural resources and local products.

“We’re hoping to make this a draw for the Southeast and bring more awareness to what we have in Columbia County,” she said.


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