Paddle Antrim Festival Kicks Off After Missing Out Last Year

At 9:30 a.m. on Friday, paddlers set out for the sixth Paddle Antrim where they looked to travel along the Chain of Lakes Water Trails.

Paddle Antrim Director, Deana Jerdee said a large number of participants weren’t from the area.

“We have about 80 percent of paddlers are coming from not the five county region,” she said. “So they are coming from the outside coming in and seeing our communities.”

One paddler, Jeff Dykehouse was excited to get going and enjoy the ride.

“I like to kayak. I like to kayak and I heard about this even the last couple of years, decided to sign up, and I’ve never kayaked this particular route so I’m looking forward to it,” he said.Paddle Antrim

Many of the paddlers will also stop along some of the restaurants and shops along the way, as well as stay in some of the hotels.

“Its great to have all these people come and its starting to be the shoulder season before the colors are turning,” said Jerdee. “We have all these folks staying at our hotels, engaging in our restaurants spread throughout the chain. We have people that I know are staying all the way up in East Jordan down to Elk Rapids.”

Paddle Antrim, a nonprofit, started as a way to recognize Michigan’s waterways and keep them protected.

This is Russ and Julie Witherspoon’s third paddle and they were one of the first ones to hit the seven-mile mark.

“It’s the most beautiful paddling we do all year and we paddle a lot of different places in the state,” said Russ. ” It’s gorgeous and it’s a challenge.”

The festival will wrap up at Shorts Brewing in Elk Rapids on Saturday.