Chatt-Bend River Fest planned in downtown Newnan
by Sarah Fay Campbell
When some 400 participants in Paddle Georgia arrive in Newnan on June 25, they’ll be welcomed in style.
Plans are in the works for a Chattahoochee Bend River Fest in downtown Newnan.
The evening event will be a project of the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park, in partnership with Main Street Newnan. Things aren’t finalized yet, and the event still needs to be approved by the city of Newnan.
The event is intended not only to welcome the paddlers to Newnan and Coweta, but also to raise community awareness about Chattahoochee Bend State Park and what it offers, said Greg Hyde, River Committee chairman for the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend.
Plans are to set up a 25-by-50-foot pool on South Court Square. There will be kayak demonstrations and a canoe “tug of war” competition.
There will be various sponsors related to outdoor activities set up, and there will be a DJ, music and dancing. The Friends of the Bend will have an informational tent set up, as will the Chattahoochee RiverKeeper and the Georgia River Network, which sponsors Paddle Georgia.
Main Street is planning an “art walk” during the event, Hyde said.
And there will be a river-related “film festival” held upstairs at the Carnegie that evening.
“We have four or five films; we’ll have that set up upstairs,” Hyde said. One of the short films is about the city of Columbus creating a whitewater course on the Chattahoochee.
Paddle Georgia is a week-long paddling trip along a Georgia river. It’s held each year, and this year is being held on the Chattahoochee, along a route from just below Buford Dam at Lake Lanier to Franklin.
The roughly 400 participants will camp out at Newnan High School on Wednesday, June 25 and Thursday, June 26. The event will end Friday in Franklin.
The trip sold out quickly, said Joe Cook, Paddle Georgia coordinator. There were about 800 applicants for the spots. This year, for the first time, the spots were awarded by lottery instead of on a first-come, first-served basis. They’ve also increased the number of paddlers from the usual 350.
The Thursday night of the event, they’ll have a talent show at Newnan High School.
The trip is about more than just paddling. “We have water battles and get out of our boats and float alongside our boats as we drift down the river,” Cook said.
“From Atlanta to Coweta and Heard is a surprisingly beautiful stretch of river, and a lot of people don’t know that,” said Cook, a longtime river advocate. “We have that legacy of a really polluted river down there, but it’s not so much that way anymore."