The Savannah River is usually peppered with boats on summer weekends. But this Saturday, ships of all colors, sizes and strengths will float during the fifth annual Paddlefest.
Paddlefest is sponsored by Savannah Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy group working to restore water quality on the Savannah, protect the lakes and tributaries in the Savannah River Basin and educate area residents about ecological and environmental problems.
There will be categories for kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards and homemade rafts. Kayaks and canoes will begin at Savannah Rapids Pavilion, stand-up paddle boards will begin at the Fifth Street Marina, and homemade rafts will begin at the North Augusta Boat Landing in Hammond’s Ferry.
Jennifer Gut, the program manager for Savannah Riverkeeper, said the homemade raft category is always the most entertaining.
“People work for months on those,” she said.
The rules for homemade rafts are not extensive, she said: safety first, but after that it’s up to the contestants.
“It doesn’t need to fall apart, and it needs to have good construction,” she said. “Most of all, though, be creative and have fun.”
The races will be followed by a festival on the Riverfront Marina, with food vendors, water slides, boat rides, a farmer’s market and more. Prizes for the fastest raft, most original, most enthusiastic, best craftsmanship, best design/engineering and best sense of humor will be given.
Paddlefest is Savannah Riverkeeper’s largest fundraiser. Gut said group members believe getting people out on the river accomplishes their purpose of educating and exciting residents about the Savannah River.
“You can have a lot of fun out there and still treat the river nicely,” she said.