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This festival goes with the flow

Slave River Paddlefest in Fort Smith

This festival goes with the flow

Held each year at the start of August in friendly Fort Smith, Paddlefest is the North's premier celebration of boats, rivers and fun. Scores of locals and dozens of visitors descend on the Slave River. There, they'll enjoy team races in traditional voyageur canoes, tours of the white-pelican nesting area, entry-level instruction on whitewater paddling, games that range from goofy paddleboard jousting to Olympic-style slalom kayaking – and the list goes on. Here's just a glimpse of what Paddlefest offers:  

Fun on the rapids in Fort Smith

        family fun        

You don't have to be an oldster to have a thrilling time at Paddlefest. Youth-sized boats are available to rent or borrow, and young folks will enjoy instructional sessions in safe, flater water portions of the river. There are also paddling contests for kids, and all sorts of fun on shore (scroll down for weiner roast info!).  

On the water in Fort Smith


This is the famous beachball race. You win by batting your team's ball downstream past the line ... or by batting the opponents' beachballs upstream. Who will win? Who knows. But you can be certain that hilarity will ensue. Other games on the Paddlefest schedule? The "International Pool Toy Race," swimming competitions, "boatercross" and more. 

Tackle the white-water in Fort Smith

Sweet waves        

The Slave River is legendary for its waves. Some of them are placid little rollers like the one pictured above, perfect for having a fun and foamy time on a hot summer day. Other of the waves are the size of a two storey house. Paddling into them is like taking a ride in a washing machine. Don't worry, it's easy to steer clear of them. 

Take an instructional clinic on the Slave River in Fort Smith

        instructional clinics        

Even if you've never been in a canoe or kayak before, Paddlefest can get you up to speed. A wealth of instructional sessions take place throughout the weekend. You'll develop comfort and learn techniques – and, if you want to, maybe even ride a few waves

Take a tandem canoe ride in Fort Smith

Tandem rides        

Don't feel prepared to go solo on the Slave's big waves? Let an expert kayaker usher you through the rapids. When you go for a tandem-boat tour, all you have to do is hang on and grin ....

Take part in a team race at Paddlefest on the Slave River near Fort Smith, Northwest Territories

Team races

Each year, the local Smith's Landing First Nation sponsors the popular voyageur canoe race. The event is a nod to the traditional vessels of the region – massive skin boats that carried people, food and supplies along the watery highways of the North. 

Eat your heart out in Fort Smith


Hotdogs over a campfire. Pancake breakfasts. The always-exciting awards dinner. Paddlefest will keep your belly full. 

World-class kayakers compete at Paddlefest in Fort Smith.

Amazing skills

Every year, Paddlefest draws a number of professional-grade paddlers from around the world, who show off their skills by performing tricks with ridiculous names – Space Godzillas, AirScrews, McNasties and more. It's a marvel to behold their acrobatics and cheer for them in the surf competitions. 

new friends

New friends        

Need we say more? 

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