Three-day Deerfield Fest celebrates outdoor recreation


Staff Writer

Published: 08-01-2023 11:12 AM

CHARLEMONT — Paddlers of all skill levels are invited to celebrate recreation on the Deerfield River.

American Whitewater, a nonprofit founded in 1954 with a goal of preserving rivers for recreational purposes, will host the 29th annual Deerfield Fest from Friday, Aug. 4, to Sunday, Aug. 6, with support from Berkshire East Mountain Resort, Zoar Outdoor, Crab Apple Whitewater and the Appalachian Mountain Club.

“Charlemont is the central location for outdoor recreation in Massachusetts,” said Amanda Major, paddle sports manager at Zoar Outdoor. “People are starting to catch on, and we are excited to support this reality in appreciating this beautiful area.”

Deerfield Fest includes whitewater releases on the Fife Brook and Dryway sections all three days. However, there are also events on land, with Berkshire East hosting a party from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday featuring live music from classic rock cover band AfterGlo, paddle sports vendors, food and drinks from local restaurants and Floodwater Brewing Co., and a silent auction.

Admission is $10, and all money raised at the silent auction will support American Whitewater’s river conservation and recreation access work across the Northeast.

The festival commemorates a settlement agreement reached in 1994 with the power companies that operate dams on the river. The agreement set the number of days during the warmer months when hydropower dams on the Deerfield River release water, allowing residents and tourists to flock to the banks of the river for a variety of recreational activities. Major explained this settlement is part of a coordinated effort between water recreation companies and the hydroelectric companies to allow for both industries to thrive.

“This allows for people to use the whitewater and enjoy it,” Major said.

According to Bob Nasdor, Northeast stewardship director for American Whitewater, the group played a pivotal role in reaching the agreement in 1994, and continues to push for other conservation work across the county, including at the dam in Turners Falls. The Deerfield Fest acts as the main annual fundraiser for American Whitewater.

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Throughout the weekend, there will also be clinics and free demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Zoar Outdoor.

“It is such a treat to be linking up with American Whitewater,” Major said, “and to continue to work on conservation and recreation access.”

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Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or]]>