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The Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival draws river rats, spectators to the Clackamas River, May 18-19; it's organized by Northwest Rafters Association

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival features a variety of races and competitive activities on the rapids of the Clackamas River.An event in the Mt. Hood National Forest will take participants through the rapids of the Clackamas River.

The 36th annual Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival is scheduled for Saturday-Sunday, May 18-19. Organized by the Northwest Rafters Association, the event takes place along the Clackamas River about 17 miles north of Estacada near the Carter Bridge.

A series of competitive events provide serious whitewater enthusiasts an outlet to showcase their skills and give beginning river rats the opportunity to get their feet wet. The event is a popular one in the whitewater community, typically drawing more than 150 people.

"We offer the most diverse community of boaters of any event in the country," says festival chairman Bob Mosier. "We include everything ... kayaks, rafts, drift boats, innertubes and canoes."

This year, the competitive events kick off with the Cronin Inflatable Kayak Slalom, during which participants must navigate through a series of gates on the river as quickly as they can.

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

The festival also features a series of boat demonstrations and safety clinics to learn about ways to stay safe while running rapids. This year, topics include emergency raft repair, unpinning boats, and water-and-rope rescue training.

For those who wish to participate in any of the events, registration is available online at upperclackamas festival.org/registration. Participants also can register at the festival and should do so at least one hour before the event they choose.

The festival is free for spectators. For more: www.upperclackamasfestival.org.

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