White water kayak pageant to mark the beginning of the East Race season in South Bend

Have you ever seen someone fall on their stomach into the whitewater foam of the East Race Waterway and ride face forward on a board? They will when a brand new festival hits the water canal in downtown South Bend on June 4th and 6th – the same weekend that public rafting begins.

The very first East Race Whitewater Festival, for which the organizers are planning an annual ritual, has already engaged around 45 kayakers from several states in the Midwest for a variety of races with varying degrees of qualification.

But it also gives the public the rare opportunity to ride the East Race with a pool floatie – even donuts and swans – while wearing helmets and life jackets. For this part, festival organizer Greg Emmack von Elkhart says: “What I’m hoping for is a crazy chaos pond swimming down the East Race.”

He hopes the $ 10 per person stunt will attract non-kayakers and others who are unaware of this unique resource.

“I love the East Race and have the feeling that it is underutilized,” he explains, explaining why he imagined the festival last fall.

The nearly four decades of the East Race hosted sanctioned races and other events that used the churned water for fun races. But nothing like that. Emmack and his colleagues at the East Race Whitewater Club, which sponsors the event, initially thought they were running a friendly competition between other whitewater clubs because he says, “We always make it difficult.”

Then they expanded the idea.

Seasoned racers will participate in three types of races: Boatercross is a sprint in which four to five kayakers run down the course, stopping to spin around checkpoints along the way. Freestyle brings kayakers to eye-catching twists, loops, surfing, and cartwheels. Riverboarding is when you ride your stomach down on a specially designed board, grabbing the handles with your hands, leaning your body to steer, and kicking with flippers on your feet.

Emmack says riverboarding “is almost all I do” and remembers taking his son on a whitewater trip to West Virginia where “we just flew over the waves”.

The city’s watersports manager, Meghan Huff, welcomes the festival as the season opener and says, “The East Race is a place everyone can enjoy, regardless of their ability.”

Paddlers come to Georgia from Minnesota. Some will camp in specially reserved areas.

Food trucks from Rulli’s, Chicory Café and Kona Ice will be deployed on site on June 5th. The competitions will take place from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on June 5th. The training times are in the morning and the evening before. Cash O’Riley, an Ann Arbor musician who just started kayaking last summer, will perform at 7pm on June 5th, playing his rebellious mix of rock, blues, folk, country and other genres.

The lifeguards of the city park department are on duty for the floatie race. Racers who fall into the water – a likelihood – should keep their feet and attention forward to regain some control. Life jackets are required, along with whitewater helmets (bicycle helmets are not enough) and the same footwear required for rafting (shoes or sandals that are securely fastened with an ankle strap). The park department will only have a very limited number of their rafting helmets.

Register and find details at eastracewhitewaterfestival.com.

Elite paddler Adriene Levknecht does one of the tricks you'll see at the new whitewater festival at the East Race in South Bend.  Levknecht visited in 2016.

• • Rafting: Public rafting at the East Race in South Bend will begin on June 6th once the festival ends. For the season from June 6th to September 5th, public rafting is offered on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. You can now purchase tickets and learn more at sbvpa.org/eastrace. A rafting trip is $ 6, two are $ 10, three are $ 15, and a day pass is $ 20.

The East Race Waterway in South Bend can be seen from the helmet of paddler Greg Emmack on his riverboard.

Gibbard Bike Park jams

Experienced riders will gasp and take to the dirty jumps of the bike park at Mary Gibbard Park in Mishawaka on June 5th. It will be both a spectacle and possibly a chance for beginners and advanced riders to show off their stuff – if the trails can be prepared in good time.

Andy Morris can use the help of volunteers to restore this unique bike park that opened two years ago. Then, according to Morris, it was eroded when young neighborhood children ran over it and bikers hit the trails when wet, which can lead to ruts. Every trail needs regular maintenance. And the city’s parks department hired Morris, a seasoned BMX rider, as a seasonal worker to get the Gibbard Trail back in shape. He’ll be in the park at least 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this week, possibly longer. Just show yourself. He has the tools and materials.

On the to-do list, he says, they need to fix the beginner pumping trail, even though the main line with the biggest jumps “is better than ever”.

The Gibbard Bike Park Jams will award prizes for the best overall line, trick and transfer and for the highest air as well as some freebies from June 14th to 17th from 2pm to 5pm. Melodies are played. It’s free to enter or see. Register for the event. No food or drinks will be served. You can bring your own, but keep all food and drink off the route. The park requires drivers to wear helmets. The jams will also return on August 21st and October 16th. It goes back to a similar event that Morris and friends hosted last fall, which was attended by around 60 people.

The park is located in the extreme south of Mishawaka on the Dragoon Trail. To get there, take Milburn Avenue east of Ironwood Drive and head south on Somerset Avenue or Grand Boulevard.

A biker takes a breath in Mishawaka's Mary Gibbard Bike Park during a

Memorial weekend

• • Hike near Potawatomi: Hike a 3-mile or 6-mile Volksmarch Saturday down the shady dirt trails at Potawatomi Wildlife Park near Bourbon to meet up with longtime director of the park, Mike Stephan, and longtime Hoosier Hikers member Susan Cameron to remember who both died in the past year or more. The Hoosier Hikers conduct this hike near the Tippecanoe River, where participants can begin once they have signed up near the Interpretation Center between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and can walk at their own pace. The 5K usually lasts 60-75 minutes while the 10K lasts at least two hours. The hike is free. However, it costs $ 3 for participants to want Volkssporting credits and $ 7 for a patch. The park is located at 16998 Indiana 331, half a mile south of Indiana 10. If you have any questions, contact Bob Buzolich at [email protected]

• • Beach hotline: Indiana Dunes National Park has brought back its summer information line to let you know which beaches have adequate parking and which don’t. Many lots will fill this holiday weekend and almost every warm one will follow. Call 219-395-1003.

• • Firewood warnings: Go camping this summer? Don’t bring firewood from home, Michigan forest and agriculture experts advise. Firewood can transmit 140 types of destructive pests and diseases. Also, be warned that Michigan suffers from various degrees of drought. So keep your flames low and pour out the coals thoroughly.

A new red warning sign on the right distracts paddlers from hitting the dam on the St. Joseph River at Jefferson Boulevard Bridge in South Bend, which the orange swimmers do.

Dam warning

Paddlers find a new warning on the St. Joseph River. In March, the city of South Bend installed a striking red sign on the water on Jefferson Boulevard Bridge that aptly warns: “DANGER. Damm ahead. Get off now! ”An arrow points to the right span of the bridge where you would be floating to the dock in front of the East Race Waterway. The current on this part of St. Joe is light enough to turn around and paddle upstream. The new sign is anchored, but floats next to the orange buoys that have been keeping boaters away from the other spans of the bridge for many years, which lead directly to the huge embankment of the Century Center.

According to a spokeswoman for the city’s public works department, the sign was created on the basis of a recommendation by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission based on an inspection of public use in front of the hydropower project in Seitz Park.

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