The Gauley River Festival began in celebration of the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the river’s flow, and after a quarter century the initial feelings of excitement and revelry have only grown. Gauley Fest remains the largest and rowdiest river festival anywhere, and if you want to paddle great whitewater, meet other boaters and exercise your liver you’ll get what you need in Summersville, West Virginia this weekend.
The river releases at 7:00 am on Friday, and at 6:00 am over the weekend. Female boaters can participate in the Ladies on the Lower G event to join Anna Levesque of Girls at Play for a day of fun and good company. Organized by North American River Runners participants enjoy shuttles, free lunch and prizes.
American Whitewater is bringing in four bands to play on two stages over Friday and Saturday.:
The Halftime String Band is mix of traditional and modern bluegrass music, rock and roll, jazz and blues, and they’ve been starting the party at every Gauley Festival for the last four years. They work the festival circuit from the Cheat to the Yough and have made a name for themselves in the boating community.
Pianoman Bob kicks things off on Saturday with an eclectic mixture of rock, folk, southern rock and country. Bob has been coming to the festival for ten years at some point started bringing his electric piano. Before long other musicians had joined in, tents were thrown up and Bob became a musical force.
The Weedhawks are a duo from Morgantown, WV that deliver acoustic bluegrass and country in a high-energy package that’s been known to get even the most crotchety and cynical out of their chairs and shaking onto a dance floor. Untried on boaters, but confidence is high.
The Mavens will carry the party late into Saturday night with a blend of honky-tonk, neo-traditional country, western swing and roots rock music that you’ve never heard before. One of the most popular bands in Western Pennsylvania they’ve played at the Ohiopyle Over The Falls Festival, the Three Rivers Festival and BradleyFest; each time to popular acclaim.
AW is raffling off gear from over a dozen vendors, and paddlers can bid on boats and gear in the AW silent auction. On Saturday AW members can vie for over $6,000 in freebies from the biggest names in whitewater by pitting their digits against Liquidlogic’s Woody Callaway in a large-scale Ro Sham Bo showdown. Numerous gear vendors will also be at the festival demonstrating new products and offering sales.
American Whitewater needs additional volunteers, and they will be rewarded with T-shirts, a volunteers only dinner, event tickets and the option to enter the volunteers only boat raffle. Specific opportunities include last minute set up on Thursday and Friday; gate, parking, membership and T-shirt sales on Friday and Saturday and cleanup on Sunday morning. Electricians are also needed on Friday. Contact Stacy Johnson at email@example.com to sign up.
Camping is available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for five dollars a head (dogs included) on a first come, first served basis. Carpools to the event are forming on the <a href="www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Forum/list/send/3/" target="_blank"Gauley Fest forum.
Visit the Gauley River Festival event page on American Whitewater for more information.