CINCINNNATI — Thousands of canoers and kayakers paddled their way down the Ohio river Saturday for the 20th annual Ohio River Paddlefest.
The event was canceled last year due to COVID-19.
“Look at the people around here. It's just so exciting! Everybody's happy to be outside and do this,” said paddler Rhonda DeWine.
This year participants could complete a 4 1/2-mile race to the Roebling, or finish the full 9-mile course beyond that.
Organizers said 2,000 people launched off Pendleton’s Schmidt ramp this morning in kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards.
“This event draws people from all over the Tri-State and all over the Midwest,” said paddler Brad Beckett. “It's a lot of fun. I love to kayak and it’s especially great on the morning like this, when the river is empty.”
Paddlefest founder Brewster Rhoads said it’s about more than bringing people together.
“This event benefits Adventure Crew, which is the nonprofit that works in 24 inner-city high schools to get urban teens out into nature year-round to fish, paddle, hike, camp, ski,” Rhoads said.
Rhoads estimates the festival will raise more than $100,000 for Adventure Crew, which he said is about a quarter of the nonprofit’s annual budget.