Good Gauley: Gauley Fest Turns 40!

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Good Gauley, Miss Molly! American Whitewater’s Gauley Fest is Turning 40, Complete with an ’80s-theme party!

Get ready for some of the best whitewater in the country (Initiation, Shipwreck and Pillow Rock ring a bell?) and arguably the paddling community’s best party get-together shindig. Yep, Gauley Fest 2023, AW’s largest membership drive and biggest whitewater event of the year, is just a few weeks away, being held Sept 14-17 at Nicholas County Veterans Memorial Park in Summersville, W.V.
The festival grounds open up September 14 for weekend camping onsite, with its vendor market and live music running thru the weekend, plus its infamous silent auction and an ’80s theme party for the ages on Saturday, September 16, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Gauley Fest. The festival wraps up on Sunday, September 17, with a festival-wide clean up to show the community how much AW and its paddlers appreciate them.
“American Whitewater is ultra-fired up to host the 40th annual Gauley Fest,” says AW’s Evan Stafford. “This event has a storied history and is not only a great time but also a chance to celebrate our success, and remind ourselves of what is possible when we work together for our local rivers. We’re also still seeking generous river-loving volunteers for a few positions to help make this magical weekend happen. Everyone who contributes receives an exclusive festival t-shirt and volunteers who share five or more hours get free admission for the full festival weekend.”
Volunteer positions open: 
September 12th – 14th: Setup Volunteers
September 15th – 16th: Admissions & Parking Volunteers
September 17th: Breakdown & Cleanup Volunteers
All proceeds from the festival support American Whitewater’s river conservation and access work throughout the nation. Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world.
The festival is a showcase for American Whitewater and the top whitewater vendors in the boating community. The festival will feature live entertainment, a whitewater marketplace, raffle, and a silent auction where you can pick up some awesome outdoor gear. Come out and join us for a weekend of great paddling, exciting camaraderie, live entertainment, killer boat raffles, and the infamous silent auction.

2023 Festival Schedule:

Thursday, September 14, 2023*

10:00 AM Vendor & Volunteer Registration Opens*

12:00 PM Festival Campground Opens* 12:00 AM Quiet Hours Begin(family campsites located behind cabins near main entrance)

Friday, September 15, 2023*

6:00 AM Gauley River Release* 8:00 AM Vendor & Volunteer Registration Opens* 5:00 PM Festival Marketplace Opens*

7:00 PM No more vehicle access to the inner festival grounds permitted for the night (visitors and campers must walk from parking area)*

9:00 PM – 11:30 PM Dance Party*

12:00 AM Quiet Hours Begin (family campsites located behind cabins near main entrance)

Saturday, September 16, 2023*

6:00 AM Gauley River Release*

8:00 AM Volunteer Registration Opens*

8:00 AM 4-H Breakfast at the Dining Hall Opens*

2:00 PM Festival Marketplace Opens*

5:00 PM AW Silent Auction Opens*

6:00 – 7:00 PM Live Music* 6:00 PM No more vehicle access to the inner festival grounds permitted for the night (visitors and campers must walk from parking area)*

7:15 PM Festival Announcements*

7:30 – 8:30 PM Live Music*

9:15 – 10:15 PM Live Music*

10:00 PM AW Membership Drive Closes/Silent Auction Closes*

10:15 PM Raffle Drawings*

11:00 PM Live Music: Red Audio*

12:00 AM Quiet Hours Begin (family campsites located behind cabins near main entrance)

Sunday September 17, 2023*

6:00 AM Gauley River Release*

8:00 AM 4-H Breakfast at Dining Hall Opens*

9:00 AM Festival Breakdown and Cleanup Begin (please pitch in and fill a trash bag to help show the community we care)*

11:00 AM Camping and Vehicle Parking On Site Ends

Pricing for 2023: Thursday Admission for Festival Weekend: Adult $60, 15 & Under FREE, Dog $20, Volunteer $60* Friday Admission for Festival Weekend: Adult $50, 15 & Under FREE, Dog $20, Volunteer $50* Saturday Admission for Festival Weekend: Adult $40, 15 & Under FREE, Dog $20, Volunteer $40

Every fall, the six weekends of Gauley season provide the biggest whitewater party of the year. American Whitewater’s GauleyFest, is held on the third weekend of the month of September, is the world’s largest whitewater festival.
Want to plan to run one of the best whitewater runs in the country? Read more about the Upper Gauley run here: https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/view/river-detail/2378/main

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