Jacque Kelsall (front) and Nathanael Kotzur paddle the Quesnel River Sunday during the 24th annual Unlikely Paddlefest.

Jacque Kelsall (front) and Nathanael Kotzur paddle the Quesnel River Sunday during the 24th annual Unlikely Paddlefest.

Paddlefest celebrates 24 years

Things were flowing smoothly during the weekend at the 24th Unlikely Paddlefest in Likely.

Things were flowing smoothly during the weekend at the 24th Unlikely Paddlefest in Likely.

Red Shred’s Bike and Board Shed owner Mark Savard, who started the event in 1992 with a group of friends who decided to have an end-of-season paddling party coinciding with B.C. Rivers Day, said paddlers came from throughout the province to enjoy the Quesnel, Cariboo and Chilko Rivers.

“The campsite at Quesnel Forks was at 120 per cent capacity,” Savard said. “It was a really good turnout. The rafting part of it keeps growing and we’re starting to get more people showing up with canoes and just paddling on the lakes, which is kind of cool.”

And despite some wet weather for part of the weekend, Savard said he can’t remember a time when the rivers were at the levels they were for this year’s event.

“With the wet summer I don’t remember a Paddlefest with the rivers at that high of a level,” he said. “Last year things were pretty bone dry. This year, everything was pretty lush.”

Ari Bruns, who travelled from Revelstoke to take in the event, said it was an amazing weekend.

“Camping in the rain for three nights was all made worth it by exploring some amazing, local rivers and meeting up with more fellow kayakers from all over B.C.,” Bruns said.

Savard added things at this year’s Paddlefest were fairly laid back, which is a perfect atmosphere for the event.

“It was a classic Unlikely Paddlefest,” he said, adding after 24 years the event essentially organizes itself. “It’s sort of organic. It does what it wants to do.”

Also on Sunday, the Likely Xat’sull Community Forest unveiled its new Warren Peace mountain bike trail, where some 25 riders came out to take the new trail for a spin.

“That was a really good success,” Savard said. “Really, everything went off without a hitch.

“[For next year] we hope it just keeps going and brings more people to the area. The mountain biking thing will go on again and I think if we can get more of the general community out to go for a paddle and get people off the couch it would be cool to get them out for that B.C. Rivers Day.”

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