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18th Annual Cheat Festival Coming Up May 5th!

Posted: 04/24/2012
by Charles Walbridge

Join Friends of the Cheat on May 5th, 2012 for the 18th annual Cheat River Festival in Albright, WV! FOC has been the driving force behind a dramatic improvement in water quality in the Lower Cheat Basin.  American Whitewater worked closely with them for over a decade and helped develop their river access in Rockville and Jenkinsburg. Area boating opportunities abound! In addition to the Cheat Canyon and Narrows there will be Upper Yough releases and many other options if it rains. For more information go to http://www.cheat.org/. 

The festival is located off Route 26 just north of Albright, WV along the banks of the Cheat River.  The gates open at noon, but be sure to come early to set up your campsite at Teter’s or Cheat Canyon Campgrounds.  Admission is $15 at the gate, and children under 12 are free. No dogs are allowed in the festival site or in the campgrounds. The road into Jenkinsburg, the Cheat Canyon takeout, was recently graded by the county. It's not smooth, but its much improved!

Weekend festivities begin Friday evening with one of the largest, mass start downriver races in the country: the Cheat River “Massacre-ence”.  The race begisn at 5:20pm with registration from 3:00pm – 5:00pm at the Laurel Highlands Outfitters booth.  Registration is $25 for advance registration and $30 the day of the race.  Registration includes race entry, Saturday festival entry, and post-race party perks.  T-shirts are guaranteed for pre-registered racers.  There is a chance the race could be moved or cancelled due to low water.  Stay tuned for more details and updates at http://cheat.org/festival/downriver-race.

Festival Saturday kicks off with the 8th Annual Cheat Fest 5K at the Preston County Country Club.  Registration is from 8:30-9:45am and the race begins at 10am. Cost is $20 if you pre-register by April 27th or $25 thereafter.  Registration includes free admission to the Cheat River Festival, post-race refreshments, and the first 100 registrants receive 5K t-shirts.  For more information visit the Cheat Fest 5K race page:  http://cheat.org/festival/roadrace

Back by popular demand, the Cheaters Consignment area introduced in 2011 will be back again under the pavilion.  The public can donate items or place them on consignment with FOC volunteers to sell during the festival.  “Leave your wares and FOC will keep a share!”  The seller will determine the price or price range, and the donation percentage that FOC receives (minimum 25% of the selling price).  All items that do not sell and are not donated to FOC must be picked up at the consignment booth by 8:15pm the evening of the festival, or make prior arrangements with an FOC representative when the item is placed on consignment.  You can drop off items early by contacting the FOC office at 304-329-3621and making arrangements with staff.

There are many art, equipment and food vendors on premises for your enjoyment. FOC will have both raffle and silent auction items up for grabs including boats, nature photographs, clothing, FOC merchandise, and more! Visit the FOC booth for the latest T-shirts and other memorabilia, or stop by the nonprofit tent to see what others are doing to protect our rivers. There will also be a booth honoring Ralph McCarty, the first outfitter on the Cheat River, who passed away a few weeks ago. 

Around 8 pm, American Whitewater will present its first “Friends of Whitewater” award to the Little Sandy Church of the Nazarene.  The church has provided paddling access to Little Sandy Creek for over a decade. When church volunteers built a fence above the river to protect young children they kindly left a gate for paddlers to pass through.

Music begins at 1pm on the recently - spruced-up Cheatfest stage.  For details go to http://cheat.org/festival/misic.

Charles Walbridge
Bruceton Mills, WV