More than 1,000 kayaks expected at burgeoning W.Va. festival

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Kayakers float Coal River, expected to fill with more than a thousand kayaks June 16. Photo courtesy Rick Ferris.

A record-breaking 1,000 kayakers are expected to participate in the 14th annual Tour de Coal community float trip Saturday, June 16, on the , according to organizers.

The tour has become so successful that it has spawned , a two-day celebration of kayaking that premiers Friday, June 15, at the mouth of the river at .

The growth of the event from a handful of participants to a regionally anticipated two-day celebration has been overwhelming, said Michelle Martin, a member of the board of Coal River Group, which established the tour to raise funds to help restore the river.

Beginners and experts alike, all who wish to participate are welcome to join the kayaking float trip, which follows a scenic, 11-mile stretch of the Coal from and Saint Albans on Saturday.

The $25 fee to join the float benefits the river’s watershed, which has long been impacted by mining but has now become one of the state’s cleanest rivers. A pre-registration fee of $20 is also available through the group website.

Participants are expected to bring their own kayaks and may opt to attend a beginner’s kayaking clinic at Meadowood Park in Tornado at 2 p.m. Friday, June 15.

June 15 now also marks the launch of Yakfest at the mouth of the river at Saint Albans. The two-day celebration will include as many as 40 vendors representing the fishing, kayaking, and outdoor-recreation industries at the Gateway Shopping Center and a street fair featuring live music, local food and craft beer in the Olde Main historic district.

Musical groups featured at the street fair Friday include Albert Frank Perrone at 2 p.m., Jack Hollywood at 3 p.m., The Bryan Roberts Project at 4 p.m., Makenna Hope at 5 p.m., Tim & Stephen Jones at 6 p.m., Blue Crossing at 7 p.m., and Mountain Heart at 8 p.m.

Saturday performances include Davis Creek Boys at noon, Creek Don’t Rise at 2 p.m., The Back Porch String Band at 4 p.m., Adam Parker Band at 6 p.m., and The Snyder Family Band at 8:15 p.m.

For more information contact the Coal River Group at 304-722-3055 or through its .

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