Ohio River Paddlefest 2020: Paddle for a Cause

in United States at Schmidt Recreation Complex

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  • Register for 9 mile Paddlefest Paddling Trip
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  • Support a POWER PADDLER
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  • Friday Night Camping Vehicle Permit

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Event Details

Participate in the nation's largest paddling celebration!

The weekend kicks off with our Paddler's Party on Friday, July 31 at Schmidt Recreation Complex. Pick up your registration packet, drop off your boat and enjoy live music, food trucks, and craft beer. Be sure to check out our exhibitors and raffle, too.

Overnight camping is available at Schmidt Recreation Complex and can be reserved as part of your online registration.

On Saturday morning, Paddlefest begins at Schmidt Recreation Complex and ends at Gilday Riverside Park. Special thanks to our partner, Cincinnati Recreation Commission, which manage both sites.

Parking at both the put-in and take-out is FREE, and your registration includes a bus shuttle following the float.

Along our 9 mile course you can explore the Mill Creek, paddle under 7 bridges, take in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky skylines, and enjoy the live music on the water with "Rhythm on the River".

After your paddle, relax and enjoy live music, craft beer, tasty food from our local food trucks while exploring exhibits from vendors at the Finish Line Festival + Conservation Expo. Then take the shuttle back to your vehicle at the Schmidt Recreation Complex and return to pick up your boat - or just get on with the rest of the day!

Your registration fee covers paddle entry, venue fees, and shuttle bus. Register by June 30 to receive a free Paddlefest shirt!

Event Schedule

*Friday, July 31st Paddler’s Party and Boat Drop Off at Schmidt Recreation Complex*

4:00 - 8:00 pm On-site registration, packet pickup, camping check-in & boat drop off

4:00 - 9:00 pm Paddler’s Party for a Cause: including live music, food trucks, and craft beer. Plus, exhibitors and raffle.

*Saturday, August 1st PADDLEFEST*

6:00 - 7:30 am Bright + Early Parking shuttle from take-out to put-in

6:30 - 8:30 am On-site registration, packet pickup & boat drop off

6:45 am Mandatory race meeting

7:00 am Races start

7:15 am Paddlers put-in and depart

8:00 am Deadline to claim rental boats

8:30 am Put-in closes

8:30 - 10:30 am Paddling Tour of the Mill Creek

9:00 am - 1:00 pm Finish Line Festival

9:00 am - 1:00 pm Shuttle buses back to put-in

9:00 am - 2:00 pm Boat pick-up at take-out

10:00 am Presentation of race awards

12:00 pm Deadline for all boats to take-out

12:30 pm Ohio reopens to barge traffic

1:00 pm Last shuttle bus leaves take-out

2:00 pm Deadline to pick-up boats from take-out

Boat and Board Rental

If you do not own a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddle board to use for Paddlefest, you may rent one. Boats and boards can be reserved as part of the online registration process. Boat and board rentals are limited, so reserve early to guarantee your watercraft of choice.

If you are renting a canoe, kayak or stand up paddle board, you must complete your registration and claim your boat at the registration booth at the Schmidt Recreation Complex NO LATER than 8:00 a.m. on Paddlefest morning, August 1. Please arrive earlier to be sure you do not miss the deadline. Stand up paddle boards used for us in the races must be claimed by 6:45 a.m.

Rental boats not claimed by the 8:00 a.m. deadline will be rented to waiting list paddlers. Rental boats include paddles and life jackets. Rental boats must arrive at the Finish Line Festival take-out no later than 12:00 p.m. (so they can be loaded and returned by truck to our canoe livery partners for use that afternoon).

Boat Drop Off, Take Out, and Pick Up

Boat Drop Off: You can drop off your personal canoe, kayak or stand up paddle board and complete your registration on Friday, July 31 from 4:00-8:00 p.m. and on Saturday, August 1 from 6:00-8:30 a.m. at the Schmidt Recreation Complex (2944 Humbert Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226) in Cincinnati's East End. Parking at Schmidt is FREE. We encourage you to drop off your boat and complete your registration on Friday to avoid the rush Saturday morning.

Please be sure to put your "Boat Check" tag (which you will receive at registration) on your boat and the coordinating tag on your wrist (along with your registration wristband). Paddlefest volunteers will help you unload your boat and place it in a secure area close to the boat ramp. The boat storage area will be patrolled Friday evening and overnight by police.

Boat Pick Up: Adventure Crew volunteers will help you take your canoe or kayak out of the Ohio at the boat ramp at Gilday Riverside Park (3540 Southside Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45204) and place it in our "boat security" area close to the parking lot for pick up. Volunteers will be available to help load your boat onto your vehicle- and will check your "boat check" tags to be sure they match before you leave the parking lot. Deadline to pick up your boat from the take-out is 2:00 p.m.

Paddler Safety

All paddlers MUST wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket (PFD) at all times when on the Ohio River. Paddlers who do not comply violate the terms of the Ohio River Paddlefest insurance policy and can jeopardize the continuation of the event in the future. It is recommended that each paddler also carry a whistle on your life jacket or in your boat for use in case of an emergency.

Numerous safety boats and safety paddlers will be located along the 9 mile route. Many of them will have on yellow or orange vests. Power boats will be displaying Paddlefest Safety Patrol signs so you can easily locate them should you need help. Safety boats will be in communication with medical personnel and can help transport injured paddlers to shore-based medical assistance.

What to Bring

Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses with a strap, water, cash for food, refreshments, and merchandise, shoes, waterproof camera, and an extra shirt. Please make sure you use sunscreen before you get into your boat. Water bottle refills will be available at the Midpoint Pit Stop and at the Finish Line Festival at Gilday Riverside Park.

What NOT to Bring

No alcohol and drugs, weapons, valuables you cannot afford to lose in the Ohio River!

Paddle proceeds get urban teens out into nature...

The Ohio River Paddlefest will benefit Adventure Crew, a non-profit organization connecting urban teens to nature and outdoor recreation year round. Paddlefest proceeds will support the work of Adventure Crew in 23 Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky schools. For more information about Adventure Crew, go to www.adventurecrew.org


Interested in volunteering? Please contact our volunteer coordinator at info@ohioriverpaddlefest.org.


For event-related questions, please email info@ohioriverpaddlefest.org or click the Contact the Organizers button on the left-hand side of this page.

Welcome to the Ohio River Paddlefest!

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