Paddlers of all ages and skill levels will take to the water on June 12, 2010, for the eighth annual Back to the Chattahoochee River Race and Festival. The race course begins at Garrard Landing Park on Holcomb Bridge Road and ends at Riverside Park in Roswell, the site of the free festival, music and the awards presentation. Organized and presented by Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR) in partnership with the National Park Service, Fulton County, and the city of Roswell, the event is designed to celebrate the Chattahoochee and foster a sense of community around the river that serves 3.5 million Georgians and 70 percent of metro Atlantans.

The race begins at 9 a.m. and includes open and recreational categories, various age divisions, solo and tandem canoe divisions, as well as kayak and sea kayak divisions. Paddlers seeking a competitive race will traverse the 10-mile course, while recreational paddlers will take the eight-mile course. Both include exciting Class I-II rapids and conclude at Riverside Park. Timing officials will be provided by Georgia Canoeing Association.

The festival at Riverside Park, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free and family friendly. Racers and others will enjoy live music from The Watershed Project — a collection of local musicians including those who regularly donate their time and talent to UCR events. Other highlights of the festival include Riverside Park’s “spray ground,” face painting, balloon artists and other family friendly activities, as well as vendors and an array of environmental exhibits. Visit the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper website for updates on festival activities.

Awards will be presented in all categories at the conclusion of the race, including awards for Best Costume and Best Boat Decoration. The race also includes a Team Challenge as a way to build pride, morale and camaraderie among groups such as companies, schools, and clubs. Race fans can cheer for their favorite crafts from several locations: Island Ford, Don White Park and the take out. As a special treat for racers only, paddlers will be greeted at the end of the course by the SweetWater Beer Barge (UCR’s own pontoon boat). Paddlers can enjoy sodas, water, or a SweetWater brew (for patrons 21 and over carrying a valid ID) before going ashore.

Advanced registration is available online through June 9 with a fee of $40 for solo boats and $60 for tandem boats. Onsite registration will cost $50 for solo and $70 for tandem boats and will be available based on capacity. All registered paddlers will receive a gift bag, a race T-shirt, a boxed lunch, and

 a one-year membership to UCR. Proceeds go to support UCR’s mission to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee River system for the peop

le, fish and wildlife that depend upon it.

Presenting sponsor for the event is 97.1 The River; other sponsors include Chevron, Classic Subaru of Atlanta, Sweetwater Brewing Co., SignUp4, Federal Home Loan Bank, Georgia Canoeing Association, The Sunday Paper, Half Off, Republic Services, Tree Sound Studios, Twin Bear Management, Upper Chattahoochee Chapter Trout Unlimited, Green Street Properties/Marthasville Development, Georgia Transmission Corporation, Nokia, Aquascape Environmental, and Brown & Caldwell.

Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR) is a nonprofit environmental advocacy group with a mission of protecting and preserving the Chattahoochee River, its tributaries and watershed, for the people, fish, and wildlife that depend upon it.