5 events and organizations in Madison focused on paddling

Join fellow water bugs through these groups and events.
group of people on the flotilla
Courtesy of River Alliance of Wisconsin
Fools' Flotilla

Every spring, outfitter company Rutabaga’s Canoecopia event hosts hundreds of exhibitors, teachers and paddlesports enthusiasts for a week of gear deals, lectures and all-around fun. Canoecopia has become the world’s largest paddlesport exposition, with a portion of the proceeds going to organizations keeping local waterways clean, protected and accessible for all. rutabaga.com/canoecopia

Fools’ Flotilla
The zany costumed boat parade is back this year on Aug. 29. Known for the bright get-ups, over-the-top floats and feel-good tunes, the Fools’ Flotilla parade brings together people from across the community to celebrate the Yahara River. The event, hosted by the River Alliance of Wisconsin, has grown larger than its creators ever imagined, with more than 200 participating boats in 2019. wisconsinrivers.org

Mad City Paddlers
Mad City Paddlers club members range from flat-water canoers to serial sea kayakers who can partake in any of the 70-plus meetups that happen in any given non-COVID-19 year. Moonlit paddles in the summertime are always better with friends, and you’ll likely make a lot of new ones with 400 members in the paddling organization. madcitypaddlers.org

Madison School & Community Recreation
Learn to kayak or canoe with MSCR, whose instructors will teach you how to paddle so you can master the strokes before even hitting the water. Introductory courses, sunset sessions and local excursions around the Yahara River, Horicon Marsh and Lake Monona are a great way to jump in paddle-first. mscr.org/our-programs/outdoor/paddling-program

Paddle & Portage
You probably just missed this iconic June 19 event benefiting Clean Lakes Alliance, but mark your calendars for next year. COVID-19 accommodations included a shortened portage and heat-style race starts for all categories. Paddlers canoe solo or in a team, and those with “circus caliber balance” put their SUP skills to the test. For non-racers, the open wave mass start event allows for a leisurely paddle through the day. paddleandportage.com

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