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Annual Upper Clackamas whitewater festival will take place next weekend.

FILE PHOTO - The Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival features a variety of opportunities for participants to spend time on the Clackamas River.

Ever wanted to test your endurance on the Clackamas River?

If so, be sure to check out the 34th-annual Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival, scheduled for Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22.

Organized by the Northwest Rafters Association, the event takes place along the rapids of the Clackamas River about 17 miles north of Estacada near Carter Bridge. A series of competitive events provide serious whitewater enthusiasts an outlet to showcase their skills, and gives beginning river rats the opportunity to get their feet wet. Events focus on everything from drift boating and rafting to kayaking and stand-up paddling.

The event is a popular one in the whitewater community and typically draws upward of 150 people.

"(Participants) fill up every campground up river," said Connie Redmond, one of the event's organizers.

This year, the fun starts with the AIRE Inflatable Kayak Slalom, during which participants will paddle from Fish Creek to Carter Falls as fast as they can while earning points for successfully passing through all of the touching gates.

Other events include the Maravia Paddle Team Slalom Race, the SOTAR Inner Tube Slalom and Val's Volleyball, which requires participants to keep a large boey "volleyball" near their boat as they make their way down the river.

Awards ceremonies on both Saturday and Sunday will honor the top participants in each competition.

The festival mainly draws in experienced whitewater enthusiasts, but there are opportunities for beginners to sharpen their skills, as well — such as the paddle board races.

The weekend also features a series of boat demos and safety clinics so everyone interested can learn more about how to stay safe in different whitewater situations.

The event's first clinic, which will focus on ways to un-pin a boat, rope systems, strainers and entrapment, is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The clinic will also discuss basic mechanical advantages and protective equipment.

The emergency raft repair clinic, scheduled from 1-2 p.m. Saturday, will focus on crafting an emergency repair kit, maintenance of the kit and strategies for enabling your boat to retain air.

For experienced river rafters who wish to learn more, a clinic focused on advanced rowing techniques is scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Saturday, followed by a clinic focused on advanced racing techniques.

For those who wish to stay dry, the event also features live music, a beer garden and raffle drawing.

Registration will be be available during the festival, and participants should plan to register for events at least one hour before their start. Registration fees range from $10-45 per race.

For more information, including a complete schedule of events, visit www.upperclackamasfestival.org.

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