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Paddlefest a chance to experiment with kayaks

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
A family prepares to hit the water at a previous Paddle Fest even

A kayak can be a major investment, which is why Paul Egbert, owner of Wind & Water Boatworks, wants to make sure paddlers get into the right boat the first time.

The shop will hold its annual Paddlefest this Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the South Shore Beach at Moraine State Park. Eight different manufacturers will be represented and between 40 to 60 models of kayaks, canoes and paddleboards will be available for people to try. The event will be held rain or shine, and the shop will provide life jackets and paddles.

“Each manufacturer has a representative there, and we have our sales people there so we can answer questions, but we can also ask questions,” Egbert said. “We'll ask who they're going paddling with because if someone has a 16-foot boat, the person won't want to go with one that's shorter and smaller because he won't be able to keep up. Your faster friend will have to hang back when they could be gone.”

Other important questions Egbert said they'll ask include where the person intends to paddle most, whether it's Lake Arthur, the creeks and streams of Butler County, Lake Erie or even the ocean, which he prefers.

“We ask enough questions so they get pointed in the right direction,” he said.

Paddlers who aren't ready to purchase can always rent a kayak or canoe at Moraine State Park and explore the 3,225-acre Lake Arthur. The Hidden River Canoe Trail was established by members of the Western Pennsylvania Paddlesport Association in 2000. A brochure describing where paddlers can see evidence of beaver activity, an osprey nesting platform and wetlands after launching from the McDanel's launch area is available at the main office at Moraine State Park as well as Wind & Water Boatworks.

A cheap kayak can generally be purchased for around $300, Egbert said, but their models generally range from $500 to $3,000.

“It's like any other sport, whether it's golf, tennis or skiing,” he said. “You can go out with the cheap stuff but chances are you're not going to like it and end up giving it up, or you're going to be buying the better stuff before long anyway. (Paddlefest) is a learning experience for the consumer so they buy the right product the first time.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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