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Kern Fest 2016

Late March of 2016 marked the 52nd annual Kern River festival in the small town of Kernville, California. The festival was created as a fundraiser for the Kern river alliance. It features some great activities for paddlers of all skill levels including clinics, SUP events, a slalom race, and a downriver race.

For the past few seasons, the drought in CA has negatively impacted the festival and last year it was cancelled due to the lack of water in the drainage. This year, a cold spell locked up the snow in the headwaters, which caused the flows to drop some. However, boaters from all over the west coast still made the trip down to the Kern despite the below average flow. The low flows led to the cancellation of the highly anticipated Brush Creek race, but there was still plenty of events and sections to boat to keep paddler’s stoked. The local boaters were more than welcoming to those of us who were new to the area, and were excited to have both water and paddlers back in the area.

What was unique to me about this festival was the fact that all of the events were on a section of the Kern that is class II-III. It reminded me of a festival of the same caliber of Cheat fest, and that to me was really cool. The great thing about having a festival like Kern fest is that it encourages more paddlers to take part in events and push themselves a little. Witnessing paddlers who would generally stay away from events on harder runs take part in races and try new things was really cool. I think there needs to be more festivals and events like this.

After three days of hanging out at the Pyranha booth, paddling with both old and new friends, and hanging out with some awesome people, I was stoked by all the things the Kern Fest had to offer. If you’re around California in March, plan on stopping by the Kern Festival. It’s a fun event with some really awesome people. I want to extend a huge thanks to Sierra South, Kern River Brewing Company, Kern River Alliance, the people of Kernville, and everyone who attended Kern fest. You all made this cool event possible. I’ll be back next year!