Gathering typically brings river enthusiasts to the Mt. Hood National Forest each May for competitions, clinics

PMG FILE PHOTO - A kayaker navigates through the rapids of the Clackamas River.

A longstanding tradition on the Mt. Hood National Forest will not take place this year because of concerns about COVID-19.

Organizers of the Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival announced last week that the gathering initially scheduled for this May has been canceled.

"The health of our whitewater community is our number one concern and although this is only the second cancelation in our festival's long history, we're confident it's the right choice," organizers wrote in a Facebook post.

Each year, the Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival brings around 150 participants to the Carter Bridge Recreation Area to showcase their skills in a series of raft, kayak and stand up paddle board competitions. Clinics to learn more about whitewater recreation and river safety are also available.

The festival was started by the Northwest Rafters Association in 1984. Along with local participants, it also usually draws attendees from Idaho, Washington and Southern Oregon.

Several days after the festival's cancelation, leaders on the Mt. Hood National Forest announced that all recreation sites would be closed through at least May 8.

"The UCWWF would like to thank our volunteers for all the hard work, time and dedication that has already gone into planning this year's event as well as the racers, vendors, and sponsors who planned on participating," festival organizers wrote. "Our team will be working hard over the next year to bring the whitewater community back together for 2021. Until then we hope that everyone stays healthy at home and we look forward to seeing all of you in May 2021."

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