The first week of May, the annual Meduxnekeag River Canoe Race with lots of water volume this year will happen in Houlton Maine.
Heavier than normal snows mean no shortage of water for the race in Aroostook County. Paddlers from around New England and Atlantic Canada take canoes, kayaks, boats and rafts down the the river named by local Maliseet Indians. "Meduxnekeag" means rocks at its mouth. Past race Chairman Peter Blood told me today that in the beginng he wondered why there were a number coolers with lively party canoers celebrating spring. He felt the tradition may have been because college kids were behind the intial races. The Houlton Rotary Club took over the race rather than see it not happen as new blood to coordinate the race was needed. Then a local group including Peter Blood, now a retiredlocal teacher with his co-chair Clint Cushman did a superb job getting the race organized. This year's chairmen are Todd Williard and Malcolm Nesbitt.
Different years the race has started and ended in different spots usually depending on the water levels and ease for launch and exit from the river. Recently the race has finished at the Highland Avenue and River Street corner where there is a paved parking lot, and launch ramp to make getting off the river easier. The race offers different classes and age groups. There are recreational family paddlers and black belt kayakers that do the circuit and are hoping to win their division. I snapped this image from the Highland Avenue bridge in Houlton a few years ago where the race ends nowadays. In the past, the race ended at the covered bridge known as Watson Bridge in Littleton where the Rotary Club had a snack booth and hot food to feed hungry paddlers. Now there is a breakfast with safety briefing and the rules to have a fun, spirited race to celebrate spring after hibernating for some over the winter months.