The Coosa River Whitewater Festival is one off the state’s most popular kayaking and partying events, and if you have never tried it, you are missing out.
This unique kayaking event has a long history now and is an exciting three-day event that is now sponsored by the Coosa River Paddling Club.
The event is held in Elmore County in Wetumpka, so it is southeast of the Birmingham area, northeast of Montgomery, and just slightly east of Prattville.
It has been held now since 1985, but on a much smaller scale originally.
It is just what it says it is; a “Whitewater Festival” that includes boats as well, but the real action is all on kayaking.
There is also live entertainment for you and your friends to enjoy, and it all happens on the Coosa River, between Lake Jordan and the small, beautiful city of Wetumpka, Alabama.
The Coosa River Whitewater Festival has a long and very interesting history.
In the early 1980’s, the kayakers in the central part of the state, especially Wetumpka, started to petition the Alabama Power Company, as well as the Federal Regulatory Commission.
These two agencies oversee all matters, including environmental to the hydroelectric plants that increase the flow through the Jordan Dam.
If they could increase this flow, this water would flow directly into the Coosa River, just below the dam.
In the year 1985, a small community of kayaking enthusiasts resulted in a one-day Fourth of July Festival and was led and organized by Lonnie Carden.
The city of Wetumpka also played a key role, but it was Lonnie Garden leading the way.
He was the “activist”, most called him an enthusiast, the led the effort to increase the amount of water released for the Jordan Dam.
These festival organizers, along with the CRPC, the Cossa River Paddling Club, helped to start this dispute between the Alabama Power Company.
They loved their baiting and fishing there and wanted more water flow.
The obstacles faced by the Coosa River Whitewater Festival were numerous during the 1980’s.
The Alabama Power Company was releasing most all of Lake Jordan’s water through the Bouldin Dam, which forms Bouldin Lake, just below Jorden Lake.
The Bouldin Dam was the site of the company’s largest of it’s14 hydroelectric power plants, and powers most of surrounding areas.
As a result of all of this, the Cossa River, again just below the Jordan Dam, did not have enough water flow.
This low water flow could not support fish populations and could not even begin to support any type of watersports recreation because of frequent stagnation.
At the time, no organization existed that could help, so the Birmingham Paddling Club was asked for their advice and guidance.
As a result of this, things began to happen, starting with the year 1991 by Lonnie Carden.
He created the Cossa River Paddling Club, to help take this issue on headfirst, and get the water flowing in the Jordan Dam tailwaters.
Finally, in the year 1992, the Federal Regulatory Commission, ordered the release of water from Lake Jordan via the actual dam itself.
However, they were controlled, and were timed only for weekend recreational periods throughout the summer.
It also watched the release to help maintain the wildlife in the area, as well as holidays for the public.
Once all of this happened, the Coosa River Whitewater Festival was officially born.
The Coosa River Whitewater Festival is a very exciting three-day annual event, that today is sponsored by the Cossa River Paddling Club.
It is held in Wetumpka and includes the following events.
Thanks to all the efforts over the time by these dedicated people that made it happen, it all takes place on the Coosa River between the Jordan Dam, and the beautiful small city of Wetumpka.
It has also become a charitable event, and it helps several different important causes.
It is not only devoted to environmental protection; it also helps to maintain and develop historic sites and trails located along the river.
This unique festival also invites artists to create designs on all kinds of boats, including kayaks, canoes, as well as paddling boats.
The first day of this amazing festival again features live entertainment, as well as a practice “run” for all of the competitors, and then the real competition begins.
The second day of the festival the experienced Kayakers compete, and this includes men’s, women’s, as well as junior freestyle competitions.
The Classic Ender Competition is very interesting, and here competitors preform a traditional kayaking trick not advised for amateurs.
The trick requires nosing the front end of the boat down into the water, and then its buoyancy propels it backup rather forcefully.
On the third day, the festival is now fully devoted to what is called a “Fun Float”, and this is open to all boaters, all ages, and all skill levels.
There are also non-water events, and they are held at the Coosa Outdoor Center, located in Wetumpka.
What is also neat about the amazing event, is that the competitors fees help to contribute to the prize money for the professionals.
The winners of both the men’s and women’s professional competition will receive $500.00.
The spectators of the event can also have a special treat, can and watch the entire thing from what is called “Rock Island”, which sets right in the middle of the Moccasin Gap rapids.
It is estimated that as of the last few years, Cossa River Paddling Club, a non-profit organization, has over 80 lifetime members, and over 200 that are annual members.
If you and your friends or family love to play on the water and have never seen the Coosa River Whitewater Festival, you will be very surprised at the fun and action.
Coosa River Whitewater Festival - Elmore County Economic Development Authority (elmoreeda.com)
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