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Paddlers happy to be back for 54th Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race

Cold weather and low water levels presented challenges this year.
Published: Apr. 17, 2021 at 4:36 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The 54th Annual Kenduskeag Stream Canoe race was back on Saturday after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

When you ask anyone about Mainers there are a few words that come to mind.

“Mainers are so resilient,” said Holly Zchetzche.

“Just a hearty bunch,” said Alana Campbell.

“They’re tough,” said Tim Baude.

Despite a year of uncertainty and snow in the forecast that toughness came through Saturday at the 54th annual Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race.

People we spoke to were mostly happy to be a part of the action.

“My usual partner wasn’t able to make it so my wife graciously decided to step in and take his place this year,” said Matt Hunt.

His wife said she wasn’t feeling great about her decision.

“Worst weather the best stories,” said Zchetzche.

While Six Mile Falls is typically a spot where racers end up in the stream, low water levels presented a new challenge this year.

“It was bumpy, very bumpy, cold, they put a lot of extra rocks in the river this year, and we left a lot of paint on them,” said a group of canoers from the Bangor YMCA.

“It was very low but actually fun. There was a lot of rock dodging but it wasn’t anywhere near as slow as I thought it would be,” said Bucky Owen.

The race saw masks and a staggered start due to the pandemic, but Tim Baude with Bangor Parks and Recreation says some things might carry over to next year.

“Things that we’re looking at are early registration to have everyone knowing their boat numbers early and then maybe more showing up at later times so we don’t have four to 500 boats sitting here with people climbing over them,” said Baude.

Bucky Owen is in his mid-80s and completed his 50th canoe race.

He says the race is a right of Spring in Maine.

“We’ve all been inside for so long so this was a great way to get out and see people I haven’t seen in a year,” said Owen.

“As with a lot of things in 2020, people missed out on a lot so to give some normalcy back to them is great,” said Baude.

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