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Local outfitter sponsors river paddle fest

DAVID F. ASHTON - Next Adventure General Manager Mike Turner says their Summer Splash, now held at Oaks Amusement Park, has been their most popular event. In the south field at Oaks Amusement Park, near the rowboat barns, dozens of colorful kayaks and paddle boards were laid out on the lawn.

“Our motto is ‘informing, outfitting, and exciting everyone about sports’, and one way we do that is by holding this event we call ‘Summer Splash’ here on the Willamette River,” said Next Adventure General Manager Mike Turner.

It’s the sixth such annual affair held by the outfitter, whose store is located in the Central Eastside Industrial District, Turner observed. “In past years, we held it at Sellwood Riverfront Park, but we outgrew the area.”

The idea is simple, yet compelling, to both novice and experienced paddlers: The retailer invites kayak and paddleboard suppliers to bring out their watercraft for visitors to try out.

“Because there are so many models, styles, and manufacturers, it can be difficult to choose the ‘right’ kayak, just by sitting in it in a showroom,” Turner explained. “Here, they can ‘test drive’ as many models as they want for a brief time, and then decide which boat best meet their needs.”

Although it was a chilly day, hundreds of self-propelled boating enthusiasts turned out, and reportedly quite a few kayaks were sold.