Port Huron Paddle & Pour expands to two-day festival

Michigan’s first National Water Trail gets approval for a two-day event.

The 4th annual Port Huron Paddle & Pour will take place on the Island Loop Water Trail September 11-13. | Michigan State University

The 4th annual Port Huron Paddle & Pour will take place on the Island Loop Water Trail September 11-13. | Michigan State University

In September 2015, the 4th annual Port Huron Paddle & Pour will take place on the Island Loop Water Trail, which is now part of the National Water Trail System. Due to increased participation in past years, the event has been expanded an additional day. The Paddle & Pour will kick off in Bakers Field Park off Strawberry Lane in Port Huron and includes two nights of camping with Saturday for paddling the Island Loop Water Trail. The Township approved the use of the park in early June and the plan is to make the two-day event from Sept. 11-13 an annual destination event for Port Huron.

Over the past three years, the Port Huron has seen the number of participants grow at the Paddle & Pour event held in the downtown area, which was previously a one-day event hosted by the Blue Water Social Club with proceeds going the Blueways of St. Clair. The first year of the event occurred in 2012 with fewer than 100 paddlers. The following year, event participation doubled, and by 2014, approximately 400 people paddled away on the Island Loop Water Trail.

The weekend event includes casual camping, live music and kayaking along the Island Loop Water Trail. Several routes have been mapped out for the event for beginner levels to more advanced paddlers. The last evening of the event is scheduled for Saturday night, and will end with a barbeque at Baker’s Field Park with live music and vending. Sunday’s events will focus on education where speakers and clinics will be delivering demonstrations for all levels of paddlers.

This event draws not only residents of St. Clair County to the downtown area of Port Huron, but also paddlers from around the state of Michigan. If this event continues to grow as expected, St. Clair County and the city of Port Huron will get exactly what rural communities are seeking to adopt more of for economic development – an increase in tourism and a larger appreciation of the natural resources this area of the state has to offer. Coastal tourism and trails are recognized as economic development tools for small towns and rural communities, and events such as these capitalizing on existing resources. Event information is available on the Discovertheblue.org.

St. Clair County houses a number of paddling routes open to the public. Information on those routes, their locations, and level difficulty can be found on the Blueways of St. Clair website.

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