OSWEGO — Kayakers from all over the state jumped in with both feet on Saturday for a journey through four Oswego River Canal locks as part of this year’s Oswego Paddlefest.
Now in its seventh year, the annual festival welcomed waterway enthusiasts to Oswego County, starting at Indian Point Park in Fulton.
“I bought my kayak two weeks ago and this has been such a great introduction of how to navigate through the locks,” said Lisa Annenberg of Oswego. “I thought: ‘there is more fun and safety in numbers.’ Plus, I met up with some local friends and had a lot of fun.”
The H. Lee White Maritime Museum again took the lead in organizing Paddlefest and Museum Director Executive Director Mercedes Niess said there has been a “huge learning curve” for organizers to accomodate for the approximately 260 paddlers who joined the festival this year.
“This year we really had things down to a science,” she said, adding improved communication among volunteers, proper signage and pre-registration the day before the event have all been helpful measures in organizing the annual event.
The Paddlefest pilgrimage can take up to six hours on the water and the weather can be a wildcard, but Niess said she was thankful the forecast was merciful to organizers and boaters alike during the event.
“We got great communication with the safety kayaking team and museum volunteers, and they have a contingency plan if the weather goes south before the last group gets in,” she said. “They make sure people have a fun time but also are safe on the water. Without the volunteer team this would not happen.”
The event also featured a short course of approximately 5.5 miles, where paddlers started set sail toward the museum from Minetto Riverview Park.
Niess said the event would help fulfill the museum’s mission of engaging people in the community.
“Our mission as a museum has changed,” she said. “It is more about engaging people, going out and into the community and engaging them. Paddlefest is getting people out in the water in a safe way, having fun and at the same time they learn about our water and our maritime history.”