Paddlefest, the annual celebration of all things kayak-related, will return to Lodi Lake next week. And this year — the festival’s fifth — promises to be bigger and better than ever.
“In the past years, it’s been pretty demo oriented — and we’re still going to have demo boats available to try,” said Taylor Murphy, events coordinator for Headwaters Kayak, which organizes the event each spring.
But this year will have more on-water games, live entertainment, delicious food and family fun.
First off, instead of just the demonstration boats, Headwaters will have its full fleet available to rent for lake-only adventuring.
“That way, anyone who’s curious about renting that day can still be part of the event,” Murphy said.
Last year’s scavenger hunt was so popular, Headwaters is bringing it back as a treasure hunt. Paddlers will get clues leading them in search of caches around the edge of the lake. Some will include more clues; others will contain prizes.
Dave and the Box will be performing live music, and A Moveable Feast will be on-site and open for business.
A photo booth will let visitors commemorate their day.
Everyone who attends Paddlefest will be entered into a drawing, for prizes such as passes for a guided tour or free rentals at Lake Camanche, where Headwaters is now managing kayak rentals on the north and south shore.
It’s the kayak shop’s first season at Camanche, and they’re hoping to let Paddlefest attendees know about the expansion.
“We’re seeing how it goes this year, but we’re excited about it because it’s beautiful,” Murphy said.
The lake that straddles San Joaquin, Amador and Calaveras counties will soon be the site of additional social and full moon paddles, Murphy said.
“There’s all kinds of camping up there as well,” she added — making it perfect for a weekend getaway.
An additional giveaway will be held on Headwaters’ Facebook and Instagram accounts leading up to the festival. Anyone who wants a shot at those contests should follow @headwatersboathouse on Instagram or Facebook.
There will still be plenty of demos, too, with Headwaters Kayak Shop’s pro staff helping visitors get a feel for the boats. Anyone who misses out on Paddlefest is welcome to call and schedule a demo any time during the year, Murphy added.
“It’s something that we like to offer because nobody else does that,” she said.
Those who want to just enjoy a day of sun on the beach are welcome as well, but swimming won’t be permitted as no lifeguard will be on duty.
Paddlefest will be a lake-only event partly to ensure that everyone gets a chance to try some of the boats. But safety is also part of the equation. All of the rain the region has seen this year has left the Mokelumne River waters higher than usual.
While the average flow has been manageable, Murphy said, it’s still high for this area for this time at about 2,400 cubic feet per second.
“That’s a lot of water coming down,” she said.