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Shelburne Kayak Festival celebrating sixth year during Aug. 17-18 event

Kayakers from a previous Shelburne Kayak Festival. CARLY MACKAY PHOTO
Kayakers from a previous Shelburne Kayak Festival. Kathy Johnson

Registration deadline is Aug. 3

SHELBURNE, N.S. – Now in its sixth year, the Shelburne Kayak Festival has become a major destination for people who love paddling.

The 2018 Shelburne Kayak Festival runs from Friday, Aug. 17 through Sunday, Aug. 19 at The Islands Provincial Park. This year’s festival follows the template set in previous years, but this time with new board of directors.

In past years the Town of Shelburne and the Municipality of Shelburne organized the festival. This year, a board was established to oversee the festival, with the town and municipality providing advisory roles.

“We have a completely new set of volunteers as board members who are offering their time and assistance in order to make this another successful kayaking event,” says Andrew Steffensen, who chairs the board of the newly formed Shelburne Kayak Festival Society.

After Andrew and his wife Sheila moved to Shelburne County in 2016, they attended a beginner’s session at the festival and fell in love with kayaking. Former festival organizer Sheila Bird invited the Steffensens and others to join the board, and they signed on.

The board members include Andrew Steffensen, chair; Gail Daniels, secretary; Gabriel Jones, vice chair; Anne Slater, treasurer; Zea Jones, logistics; Matt DeLong, online registration platform, social media; Lisa Landry Locke, municipal support; Sheila Steffensen, logistics; Robin Walker, town support; Heather Davis, website; Adam Zita, coaches, schedule, social media; and Elaine Howatt, registration logistics.

As with previous years, clinics and guided tours are part of the lineup. All instructors are certified and experienced in the skills they teach. First aid responders will be on hand all three days.

Friday and Sunday feature a half-day of events, while Saturday’s schedule runs all day long. Saturday starts off with a mandatory safety briefing in the morning, followed by a guided paddle across the harbour to the Shelburne Farmers’ Market.

Clinics are available all three days for adults, ranging from beginners to intermediate paddlers with more kayaking experience and training. Some sessions — like Saturday’s full-day guided paddles to Cape Negro Island and McNutts Island and Sunday’s introduction to whitewater kayak surfing at Lockeport Beach — are open to intermediate paddlers only.

A free kayak session, for adults only, is once again being hosted by the municipality. That session will be open to the public on Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Registration for the full festival is not required, but participants need to reserve a spot in advance. Call the municipality’s recreation department at 902-875-3544 ext. 230.

Social events include a meet-and-greet barbecue Friday night, a Saturday night social and a yoga session, followed by a treasure hunt and poker rally Sunday morning.

Naturally, these outdoor events are dependent on the weather, Steffensen says. Last year several Saturday events had to be cancelled due to bad weather. “Safety has to be our priority. So if the instructors feel that, for whatever reason, they can’t go out, then they’re not going to go out. We leave that to their discretion.”

The society’s cancellation policy is posted on its website.

This year’s sponsors include the Town of Shelburne, East Coast Outfitters, Nova Scotia Natural Resources, Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia, the Municipality of the District of Shelburne and Candlebox Kayaking.

Registration for the full festival costs $155. People can also register for individual clinics. To earn Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Basic Skills Training certification, participants will take all four specified clinics over the three-day festival.

The registration deadline is Aug. 3.

To register

For more information or to register, visit the kayak festival website at www.shelburnekayakfestival.ca.

Registration deadline is Aug. 3.

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