Each year American Whitewater hosts their largest fundraiser known as Gauley Fest. Started in 1983 and held on the third weekend in September, the Gauley River Festival is boasted to be the largest boater, meaning paddler, festival in the world. While AW only has a full-time staff of 8, Gauley Fest has become an international gathering of over 4000 paddlers of kayaks, canoes, rafts, and outdoors enthusiasts of all types. As one might imagine, an event of that magnitude requires a boatload of helpers to pull off. That is precisely why 200 of AW’s most ardent supporters become volunteers once September rolls around.
What’s All the Fuss about Gauley Fest?
Gauley Fest is a chance for kayakers, canoeists, rafters, and outdoors lovers to get together and have a great time. There’ll be live bands, camping, vendors selling everything from boats and gear to clothes and food, kayak raffles, and the well-known Gauley Fest silent auction. This is also a great time to unload some of your used gear or to pick up other people’s hand-me-downs at great deals. Above all, it’s a time to enjoy creation with other like minded individuals.
Gauley River Festival Particulars:
- When: 3rd Weekend of September (Thursday –Saturday)
- Where: US-19 in Summersville, WV at Nicholas County Veteran’s Memorial Park
- Nearby Rivers: The Gauley River (of course) and The New River Gorge
- What to Expect: The Unexpected!
Gauley Fest Sponsors and Supporters
Gauley Fest is put on each year by American Whitewater, the premier whitewater advocacy group in the United States. Subaru, a marked favorite of boaters across the country, is Gauley Fest’s premier sponsor. The list of corporate contributors to the event is extensive and includes Adventure Technology Paddles, Chaco, Clif-Bar, Dagger, Girls at Play, Jackson Kayak, KEEN, Kokatat, LVM, Liquidlogic, NOC, Pyranha, Smith Optics, Werner Paddles and Yakima. And of course, there is a whole host of local whitewater shops that setup booths throughout the event.
Have Fun at the Gauley River Festival
So, whether you’re a kayaker, canoeist, rafter, or just an outdoors lover, be sure to make your way out to the Gauley River Festival each September. It’s a great end to the summer and paddling season and always a time you won’t forget. On a closing note, don’t speed through Summersville, as the local police love to make the acquaintance of the out-of-town traffic that Gauley Fest brings through along US 19.