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This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend my second Kern River Festival and Brush Creek Race. Last year we had a banger snowpack in the Sierra and the high flow to go with it. This year we are paying our dues for last season. Let me tell you that even with the low flow the folks at Sierra South and all of the volunteers put on one heck of a festival. The brush creek race still had 40 racers, and don’t forget the hooligan race, slalom race, dinner in the park, and movie night. If this was not enough to make you want to attend next year I have very exciting news. Efforts to renovate the white water park in Kernville have already raised $200,000 and the permitting is going smoothly. Did I mention that the existing park is the very first WW Park in the country? Tom Moore who is co-owner of Sierra South and Eric Giddens of the Kern River Brewery are spearheading the campaign, and Tom told me that “we hope to begin construction as soon as permitting will allow”. That could possibly mean bank restoration this winter and stream bed work the following winter. What that means to the paddling community is a play feature and an improved slalom course. Look for a freestyle component to the Kern River Festival in two years if all goes well!
One more notable moment in the weekend was the great history lesson everyone got when Tom Johnson was introduced to the crowd during the evening festivities. Tom is 94 years young and he is in the ACA Hall of Fame. If that is not enough he started the Kern River Festival 47 years ago, created the first WW Park in America, and he rotomolded the first plastic kayak that was called the river chaser by hollowform. He was also the US Olympic Coach and team manager of the 1976 Olympic team.
As the JK educational guy I was super excited to meet boaters from three different university programs that I work with. There were boaters there from UCSB, Stanford, and Southern Oregon University. It was great to meet folks at the start line for the Brush Creek race and to have dinner with some of them as well. It was great to lap Brush with fellow Team JK member Sage Donnelly and WK ambassador Noah Fraser. Hope got to break in her new Zen 65 on the Kern in weather that was hot enough to wear a shorty!

Later ; Colin
Team JK