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Kayakers, canoers make a splash in Heartland Festival lake events

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By Robert Villanueva

 

By ROBERT VILLANUEVA rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWN — Many participants of Heartland Festival activities take to some of the events like ducks to water. And that’s a good thing when it comes to the canoe and kayak races. “This year we’re going to have plenty of breaks between the races so people can catch their breaths,” Larry Dattilo, event organizer, said. This year the canoe and kayak events will have 17 races. Among races of speed and endurance, novelty races are part of the fun. In one race, for instance, canoers have to change places whenever a judge blows a whistle. This year, the novelty races get a new competition. “Paddlers have to sit with their backs to each other and paddle up to the bandstand and back,” Dattilo said. The canoe and kayak competitions begin at 9 a.m. with a one-mile paddle. Registration is at the event, Dattilo said. One of the special competitions is for Hardin County businesses and churches. Winners receive a paddle with a plaque on it, and year to year, winners can defend the title. The races run through 2 p.m. They take place on the point behind the George Searle Pavilion. Last year the event attracted about 40 participants, Dattilo said. “I don’t know how this year’s going to go because it’s going to be a major holiday,” he said, referring to the festival being held on Labor Day weekend. While the holiday weekend might mean people leave town so there are fewer participants, Dattilo is hoping instead it means more people bring guests who are on vacation and looking for something to do. This year, registration is $20 and includes a T-shirt, food, awards and drawings. Food includes fruit drinks, chips and pretzels, among other things. “Even some healthy food,” Dattilo said. Local merchants also donate items for drawings at the events. “There’s going to be enough where everyone’s going to win something,” Dattilo said. In fact, he said, most or all participants will probably have their names drawn twice. People must bring their own equipment if they are competing in the kayak events. Equipment will be provided for the canoeing events, if necessary. “We do encourage people to bring their canoes, no matter how old, no matter how ugly,” Dattilo said. Registration forms are scattered throughout county businesses, including restaurants and sporting goods stores, he said. The event seems to attract both seasoned canoers and kayakers and those who are not so seasoned. “We always end up with some newcomers,” Dattilo said. The organizer stressed that experience didn’t matter. “For this, really, no experience is necessary,” Dattilo said. Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.