When it comes to water activities, the Stonycreek Rendezvous has become a whitewater mecca for kayakers, canoeists and rafters.
Sponsored by the Benscreek Canoe Club, the event will be held May 17-19 at Greenhouse Park, Route 403, Tire Hill.
The event emphasizes recreation, races, whitewater rafting, musical entertainment and a kayaking rodeo.
Each year, the Stonycreek Rendezvous attracts boaters and rafters from across the region and neighboring states to participate in one of the best whitewater rivers in the eastern United States, with rapids rated from Class I (beginner) to Class V (expert).
To ensure adequate water levels, the release valve at the Quemahoning Reservoir will be opened at 11 a.m. May 17 and 7 a.m. May 18 and 19.
Along with Pennsylvania boaters, organizers see people coming from Virginia, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Canada, the New England area and California.
“The Stonycreek River and the community has a lot to offer,” said Craig Rosage, president of the club.
“This is a nice Class III whitewater, and when we have releases, it brings the people in every other weekend.”
More than 1,000 whitewater enthusiasts are expected to take part in this year’s rendezvous.
“If the weather is decent, we can expect a great crowd,” Rosage said.
“Every year this keeps growing bigger and bigger.”
The event will offer races that will entice boaters of all experience levels.
At 6:30 p.m. May 17, a Class II/III downriver sprint race will be held from Carpenter’s Park to Greenhouse Park and it consists of kayakers, open boaters and canoeists.
“We get a good turnout for the race and we usually get around 20 boaters,” Rosage said.
“It’s a big deal and the club takes care of setting safety. The award is the nice Stonycreek Rock for winning the race.”
Cost is $20 and includes a Stonycreek Rendezvous T-shirt.
Due to liability issues, if the Ferndale gauge is 5 feet or more, the race will be canceled.
SurfSUP Adventures will offer a stand-up paddle boarding clinic from 11 a.m. to noon May 18 at Greenhouse Park, followed by a race at 2:30 p.m.
The annual freestyle rodeo will kick off at 3:30 p.m. May 18 at the park.
Judging will be based on trick difficulty, variety and style in classes for beginners, intermediates and advanced.
“This is a great event for anyone who just wants to come down and watch people do their stuff and have a fun time,” Rosage said.
The rendezvous will wrap up May 19 when boaters can take to the water for casual activities.
Trips through the Stonycreek Canyon will be timed with the releases to ensure an optimal experience.
People also will have an opportunity to book rafting trips through the Stonycreek Canyon with Coal Tubin’ and Wilderness Voyageurs.
In addition, there will be vendors offering boating gear and demonstrations. There will be food provided by Flair of Country and Parrot Bay available for purchase.
A raffle will be held at 9 p.m. May 18 when people will have the chance to win boating and outdoor gear and an array of baskets. Tickets will be available for purchase throughout the event.
A variety of musical entertainment also will be offered May 17 and 18.
“We hope that everyone has a good time. People tell us how well it’s run and they’re appreciative of our efforts that we put in to making the event a success,” Rosage said. “It’s a family-friendly festival and a lot of people bring their kids.”
He added that the Stonycreek Rendezvous also is a great way for locals to see the whitewater that’s right in their backyards.
“Locals aren’t even aware what’s out here, so we try to bring it to their attention so they can partake and maybe get into our activities, too,” Rosage said.
Admission is $10 for a weekend pass.
Traditional tent camping at Greenhouse Park will be available for $10 per person for the weekend. Firewood will be available on-site through the Boy Scouts for $3 per bundle.
“We get a lot of campers – usually around 300 or 400 campers – and it looks like a sea of tents at Greenhouse Park,” Rosage said.
Proceeds from the rendezvous will be used to promote the Stonycreek River and pay for whitewater releases from the Quemahoning Reservoir.
For more information, visit www.benscreekcanoeclub.com.