Nearly 400 paddlers will participate in Georgia River Network’s Paddle Georgia, a seven-day, 95-mile canoe and kayak journey on the Ogeechee River.
The 2015 edition of Paddle Georgia will begin near Statesboro on Saturday and end near Savannah on June 26. Paddlers will get an introduction to a quintessential Deep South river along the way. The Ogeechee is a blackwater river that rolls through wide floodplain forests and coastal marshes as it winds its way to the Georgia coast.
The Paddle Georgia route will explore the river as it flows through Bulloch, Screven, Effingham, Bryan and Chatham counties.
On the river by day, at night, the participants will camp at nearby facilities such as local high schools. For additional fees, hot breakfasts and dinners are provided, along with sack lunches. The paddlers will call Portal and Springfield home for the week, camping at Portal High School from June 19-22 and Effingham County High School from June 22-26. Their final night on the river will be spent at Kings Ferry Park near Savannah.
The event includes educational programs on the river’s cultural and natural history, tours of facilities and historic sites located along the river, nightly games and entertainment, and even a research program in which participants will help collect chemical and biological data with the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program to give a snapshot of the river’s current health.
The trip culminates June 26 with a Journey’s End celebration and feast hosted by Ogeechee Riverkeeper at Love’s Seafood Restaurant. Members of the community are invited to attend the event, which includes a low country boil. The celebration is from 2-8 p.m., with dinner at 6. Tickets for the meal ($15) are available at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org/uncategorized/paddle-ga-rivers-end-celebration/
The Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, in partnership with Ogeechee Riverkeeper, are hosting a downtown street party and festival Saturdayfrom 5-8 p.m. The free festival will feature canoe and kayak demo rides and canoe tug-o-wars in a massive portable pool to be set up downtown; a D.J., music and dancing and food vendors. Registration is required to compete in the canoe tug-o-wars. Register at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org/uncategorized/canoe-tug-o-war-in-statesboro/
This is the 11th anniversary for Paddle Georgia. In the event’s first 10 years, GRN has introduced more than 3,200 paddlers to more than 900 miles of water trails including routes on the Chattahoochee, Etowah, Ocmulgee, Flint, Coosawattee, Oostanaula, Broad, Savannah, Oconee and Altamaha rivers. Along the way the event has generated more than $240,000 for river protection.
Paddle Georgia participants range in age from 4 to 84 and come from across the country and the world.
A portion of the proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, a non-profit organization working to protect the Ogeechee from its headwaters in Middle Georgia to the Georgia coast.