The one question everyone asks is, ‘where did the name come from’” says Doug Fogartie, marketing and events coordinator at the U.S. National White Water Center. Fogartie describes the reaction people offer when introduced to the Tuck Fest, held this year on April 25th- 27th. Fogartie explained that two years ago the team at the USNWC was tossing around potential names for their newly conceived weekend long festival. “Some were good and we put them aside as possible. Some, well, weren’t. Then someone suggested the name Tuck Fest as a celebration of the historic roots of this place.
As early as 1704, Europeans mapped a crossing, or ford, of the river the local Indians called Eswa Taroa. This ford was the first known crossing of the river we know as the Catawba and, along with the rest of the Tuckaseegee Trail was an important trade route for early settlers. This trail connected to other trade routes in the area allowing for the early growth of Charlotte, NC.
Just as the river crossing allowed people to explore the western parts of the state, Tuck Fest was conceived as a weekend for outdoor enthusiasts to explore new activities. “There are people who come here to ride their bike or run the trails all the time. We’re hoping people come to Tuck Fest with an open mind and a willingness to try new things” says Fogartie. Since cost can be an obstacle to trying new actives the team at the USNWC have worked to alleviate that cost by offering all races and competitions, as many as you want, for one $35 fee. All demos are free other than the $5 parking fee (You’re covered if you have the yearly parking pass).
All of the favorites from last year will be back. There will be multiple mountain bike, stand up paddle board, kayak, and trail running races as well as climbing competitions. The Wakeboard pros will be back, launching off the waves of the competition channel again. Several adventure races on bike and foot, for children and adults, are run at different times. Of course there will also be plenty of food and beverages to relax or refuel in between events.
On Sunday a 15,000 strong flotilla of bathtub buddy sized floating duckies will be launched for the extremely popular Hope Floats race. You can adopt your little yellow champion by visiting the Kindermourn website. You’ll have a chance to win prizes and are guaranteed to help a great cause.
The three-day event has an incredible variety of activities to sample or just consider for the future. Here’s a long list of new activities the USNWC have added this year:
- A paddle board sprint race
- Inflatable boards go head to head in the smaller current of the lower pond.
- Additional trail running distances – 6-mile and half marathon distances added to the trail race
- Deep-water solo climb - They’ve built a 35-foot wall over the water. No harness. You fall, you’re wet. Even if you don’t want to compete you can try the wall out on Sunday morning.
- Dog jump competition
- Can your dog snag the loaf of bread you left on the back of the counter? Bring them out and show off their talent. It’s open to all.
- Photo Contest - If photography is your preference, break out the DSL (or Polaroid, whatever). Prizes offered for best photos.
- More demos! - Survival 101 and water safety demos are added this year.
Considering all that’s going on there are some things you might not have heard about. Jeff Lenowski, professional downhill mountain bike rider, will not only be giving stunt riding demos but will be riding in some of the many races over the weekend. Speaking of pros, 5 professional standup paddleboard racers competed last year. Our locals still won the races, so maybe it could be you this year. The music pros will have more space as well. There are now two stages to hold the 17 different bands playing throughout the weekend. After the entire running, riding, climbing, eating and drinking you’ll need a nap. Lucky for us the folks at ENO will have some demo hammocks set up on the island.
The USNWC continues to add facilities to help handle the crowds. “We’re adding 18 new bathrooms near the beirgarten and we’ve expanded the south parking lot,” say Fogartie. Even so, it’s a good idea to carpool with friends. Fogartie estimates 20,000 people will visit the festival, up from 15,000-16,000 last year. The center has reached maximum capacity in the past. The best advice from Fogartie: “Get there early and stay late. We don’t want to turn anyone away”.
Here’s where you can go to learn about specific activities, register to participate in the races. www.tuckfest.org