Mark your calenders so you don’t miss the Pacific Northwest’s paddling event of the year. June 8-10 marks the third annual Wenatchee River Festival and 2007 is shaping up to outshine the previous two years. Washington’s Cascade Mountains got a royal dumping of snow this winter and the runoff is predicted to be substantial and significant well into summer. That means serious opportunities for the WRF Freestyle and open-class Downriver Race along with fantastic river running.

It’s all being held at the Cashmere Riverside Center in the lovely little town of Cashmere – downstream of that quaint and oh-so-curious [in a tourist-sort of way] burb of Leavenworth. That’s along Washington State Highway 2, east of Stevens Pass. The Festival grounds are better known as the take-out for the classic class III Wenatchee River run that features Rodeo Hole, Turkey Shoot, Drunkard’s, Trinity Wave, Granny’s and Suffocator.

Seattle Raft & Kayak is sponsoring the Downriver Race. Categories include: Men, Women and Juniors and then by type of boat: K-2, R-2, Kayak under 9 feet, Kayak over 9 feet, Canoe, Inflatable and Raft. Don’t be surprised if the race organizers add a few more classes when they see who shows up!

The Freestyle is brought to you by Leavenworth Mountain Sports . They’re the local whitewater shop in the Wenatchee River Valley. The event has categories for both beginners and advanced paddlers.

Clinics are organized by Fluid Adventures, Washington’s premier kayaking school and feature a river running clinic with Sam Drevo.

All that time on the water is going to build a tremendous hunger and thirst and the WRF kitchen is there to help. Food and drink will be served through the afternoon all the way until closing time. Sit out on the patio, open your ears to some fine music, and enjoy yourself while having significant social and personal interactions with old friends, new friends and other bi-pedal humanoid forms you wish to become acquainted with. Keep your eyes open for perambulating cookie sellers. These special units [the cookies, not the sellers] come all the way from Alaska, where they were created, and then flown on the wings of angels to arrive fresh and ready to delight every paddler’s salivary apparatus.

Spend some dry time in the afternoon and wander around the WRF marketplace. Check out the latest gear from the outdoor industry and area retail shops along with educational booths brought to you by paddling clubs and local conservation organizations.

After indulging yourself with a surfeit of food and drink, whitewater play and retail therapy, the best is yet to come. Stick around for the WRF silent and not-so-silent auction. There will be boats, paddles and a bunch of other stuff you can’t live without. Some of it isn’t even paddling gear! There’s also a boat raffle – invest a few bucks in raffle tickets and maybe win an addition to your home fleet.

All money raised by the WRF is contributed to the non-profit American Whitewater to aid in their continuing efforts to keep our rivers and waterways free and unfettered. So, come on down to the Wenatchee River Festival. Do a good turn for rivers and have fun while doing it.

Check out for schedules, where to stay, where to boat, what to do when you’re not boating, information on the auction, raffle, Leadership Roundtable, conservation and access issues in the Pacific Northwest, entertainment, races & clinics, sponsorship and how to volunteer to help with the festivities.