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Annual whitewater festival brings boating enthusiasts together on the Clackamas River

ESTACADA FILE PHOTO - Participants took on the rapids of the Clackamas River near Carter Bridge during the Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival last year.

Whitewater enthusiasts from around the region can come together later this month for the 35th annual Upper Clackamas River Whitewater Festival — an event dedicated to promoting river education and growing the camaraderie between boaters.

There will be kayak, oar boat, canoe and cataraft slalom races, boat demos, live music by the Green Neck Daredevils Band, food and beverages, clinics by trained instructors and much more.

"The variety of events happening is all-inclusive," said Luke Spencer, co-owner of Clackamas River Outfitters. "Any river (disciplines) out there is represented."

The event, organized by the Northwest Rafters Association, runs from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, and from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 20, at the rapids of the Clackamas River about 17 miles north of Estacada near the Carter Bridge.

The festival is perfect for boaters of all skill levels — providing a serious outlet for experts to showcase their skills as well as a place for beginners to get their feet wet. Those who go can try out the gear that the experts use. There is also plenty to do on dry land, between the entertainment, a raffle drawing, beer garden and great places to spectate the races.

Registration for the races can be done online at www.upperclackamasfestival.org/registration/, or at least an hour before the event you want to participate in. Preregistering is the only way to guarantee a spot in an event. It is $10 per individual race, $15 for a R2 race, and $30 for a team competition.

"The festival is a chance to get out on the water and be around other river lovers," Spencer said.

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