Deerfield River Festival


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“The Fest was a great success this year,” says Zoar owner Bruce Lessels. “The weather cooperated nicely and the Charlemont Fairgrounds is an ideal site for the event.”

He adds that the party was as much fun as the paddling, with more than 500 revelers taking from the river to the rager. “Jeff Campbell’s band once again provided excellent music,” he says. “It’s a great event and we’re looking forward to next year’s Fest being even better.”

The Deerfield River is a classic whitewater river providing northwestern Massachusetts’ paddlers with something for everyone. With runs ranging from a Class II – IV, its no wonder that American Whitewater made preserving the Deerfield River an early priority.

The Deerfield River Festival is a testament to that, starting in 1994 following the successful signing of a settlement relicensing agreement between American Whitewater, the New England Power Company, anglers, conservationists, and government agencies that addressed the management of the Deerfield River.

This year’s festival took place on the weekend of July 30 at the Zoar Outdoor Center in Charlemont, Massachusetts, and demonstrated the continued importance of AW’s efforts.

On October 5, 1994, American Whitewater signed The Deerfield River settlement agreement. Valued at $27-30 million with the whitewater mitigation alone estimated to cost $3.2 million, the agreement, among other things, assures whitewater releases in two sections of the river. Paddlers enjoy 106 days each year of Class III paddling through the Fife Brook section, as well as 32 days of Class IV paddling through the Monroe Bridge Section.

Along with assuring whitewater releases, the agreement also benefits non-paddlesport enthusiasts as well as area fish and wild life. The agreement required the installation of a number of fish passage facilities as well as the implementation of a wildlife enhancement program. Also included was the creation of a $100,000 resource protection and enhancement fund intended for future conservation efforts. To ensure the long-term preservation of the river and its surrounding forests the agreement granted conservation easements on 18,000 acres of surrounding land while providing free public access to the river and related project lands.

Proceeds from the Deerfield River Festival support American Whitewater’s conservation and access work throughout the Northeast and around the country. Each year’s event brings people together to celebrate the Deerfield River with numerous down river activities as well as live entertainment, beer, food and a silent auction.

Info: Zoar Outdoor

Staff Post
Staff Post
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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