Paddlers who have not already done so should mark their calendars for June 30, for the 18th annual Deerfield Fest in Charlemont, Mass. Come early or stay late and run the rapids and slots of the famous Dryway section of the Deerfield.
This is a must-hit event for whitewater paddlers and river lovers of all persuasions, featuring new events this year in an action-packed one-day format. And according to American Whitewater, for whom the annual event is a major fundraiser, the Deerfield Fest is the largest whitewater event in the northeast. It’s also one of the longest running, coming together back in 1994 to commemorate and celebrate the successful dam relicensing process that took place on the Deerfield in 1993.
No event brings more people to the area for fun and outdoor activities while highlighting the beauty of the river and raising funds for its protection. This year’s event also gives people a chance to be introduced to AW’s new Northeast Stewardship Director Alan Tanebaker.
In addition to the American Whitewater Membership Drive featuring more give-away swag and raffles than you can shake a stick at, the Member Get a Member program enhances your swag chances even further.
Live entertainment, a paddlesports marketplace, the infamous silent auction, free shuttles and the Raft Guide Olympics are just a few of the weekend highlights. And with all these paddlers growing up and having kids, the event now features many family friendly activities including a wiffle ball game, rubber ducky race and pie-eating contest. The Raft Guide Olympics are hosted by local rafting companies.
Volunteers are needed to help prepare, setup, staff, and takedown the festival. Volunteers are asked for just two hours, still allowing plenty of time for that river run or late night fun. All proceeds from the festival support American Whitewater’s conservation and access work throughout the Northeast, and the Deerfield River Festival is critical to this mission.
American Whitewater’s raffles and silent auction are a highlight of the festival each year, providing great deals on boats, paddles, gear, camping gear and providing entry into the sport for many who can’t afford new equipment. Deerfield Fest is a great way to connect with paddlers from all over New England and to support American Whitewater’s river stewardship work.
New this year, dogs are allowed on festival grounds. Just remember to keep dogs leashed and friendly and picked up after, and good times will be had by all.
Camping is not allowed at the festival site, but numerous campgrounds in the area are available. Call ASAP for reservations as they will fill up.
There are a number of campgrounds located within close proximity to the river. Free shuttles courtesy of Zoar Outdoor will run throughout the weekend.
Mohawk Park Campground (413-339-4470)
Mohawk Trail State Park (413-339-5504)
Country Air Campground (413-625-2996)
Savoy State Park (413-663-8469)
DAR State Park (413-268-7098)
Zoar Outdoor (800-532-7483)
If you prefer less of a dirt-bag approach to the festival, the following lodging is also nearby:
Charlemont Inn (413-339-5796)
Oxbow Resort (413-625-6011)
Giovanni’s Red Rose (413-625-2666)
Whitcomb Summit Motel (413-662-2625)
Hawk Mtn. Lodge at Zoar Outdoor (800-532-7483)
Here is an abbreviated schedule of the day’s events on Saturday, June 30:
9:00 a.m. – Vendor Setup Begins in Festival field
10:00 – Dryway release begins
1:00 p.m. – Festival Marketplace opens
3:00 – AW membership Drive begins
3:00 – Dryway release ends
5:00 – Silent Auction Opens
7:00 – Raft Guide Olympics
9:30 – AW Membership Drive Closes
9:45 – Silent Auction Closes
10:00 – Raffles and Announcements
For more information or to sign up as a vendor or volunteer, visit the official event website.