Sitting here on Tuesday morning it is hard to work as my mind keeps thinking about all we experienced at the Dutch Open Canoe Festival this past weekend. The featured photo is credit to Wolfgang Hölbling and you can see more of his images with this German Canoe site link.
For us, this was our first time at the festival and we didn’t know what to expect. The festival was started in 2003 by a group of canoe friends who just wanted to get together and share their canoe experiences one weekend in September. It has grown into an International gathering of more than 200 canoes on the first weekend of September each year. The best part about the event was it is still close to the original mission of friends just getting together to share experiences and to paddle the weekend through the National Park Weerribben.
There are very few vendors and they are focused on the canoe and paddle sports. One that we enjoyed very much was the craftsmanship of the handmade canoes of FreeRanger Canoe.
This father and son team out of Belgium build beautiful canoes and loaned me a solo demo to take my solo paddle class. Needless to say I was nervous about them loaning me one of their canoes but they treated me like an old friend with no worries about me handling their canoe. I was even treated to a wonderful paddle with Emiel who at the age of 13 is a joy to watch paddle a canoe of any type. Emiel and I exchanged paddle stories while we were paddling together. It made me long for those days when I still had my young sons out camping and canoeing together. Thanks Emiel!
We did not participate in the group canoe paddles through the Weerribben. We are not really group people and rather like to paddle with just a couple other canoes at the most. We had two wonderful long canoe paddles on our own enjoying the wild swampy areas of the Weerribben. I will post more on those in a later blog.
The area where the Open Canoe Festival was held is a open group camping field located just on the edge of the National Park Weerribben in the small town of Ossenzijl. It was a huge tent city of canoe people. Seemed that most of the canoe people like to tent in the tipi tents that are sold by a dealer that is located in Ossenzijl.
I kept mental track of what the most seen canoes brands were at the festival; Mad River, Swift, and Wenonah seemed to be the most popular. I saw a couple of Old Town, and one aluminum canoe.
There were a few of the wood canoes like our Cedar. Those are always wonderful to see as to the different materials used and the artwork of the construction. One even had a compass woodwork into the bottom of the boat. I guess that is to give direction for the fish swimming below?
On Saturday and Sunday there were workshops held to learn new canoe skills or to perfect old canoe paddle techniques. There was a two hour class held just on the breathing techniques. We found that class was a bit strange but maybe it is important the students seemed very interested for the two hour class.
What was the best part of the Festival for me was to meet and to get a solo class with Dirk Barends. I have used the information from his site for several years and my hubby also consumed a vast amount of information from his website while he was learning to canoe last year. It was a surprise for us to find out he is a good canoe friend of the couple we purchased our Cedar from. What a nice surprise!
Saturday night was a program of canoe dancing on the water. These wonderfully experienced canoe paddlers showed both my hubby and I how much we can learn if we continue this canoe adventure. Truly, it was very inspiring.
We are now in the recovery mode and back to the ho hum of our normal life. We can’t wait to attend the event next year.
I have loaded a shared iCloud picture gallery and if you would like to see the pictures we took from the festival please go to our contact page, send me your email address and we will add you to the list to have access. We kindly ask, if you use any of our images that you give us the credit with a link to our site.
If you are interested in seeing more about the Dutch Open Canoe Festival there are several links on Kanoweb.nl
Edited after initial posting to reflect the correct age of Emiel as 13. We apologize greatly for such a mistake and thank the person who brought it to our attention so that we could correct it on our site.
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