2017 Tara River Festival, Montenegro
There are many different recipes for a successful kayaking festival. Kayak Fest Tara combined elements of kayaking that often get forgotten or eliminated in the bigger, highly competitive events. Mellow whitewater, race courses that everyone can paddle and local food, drinks, music and paddlers made this festival feel like party that everyone could enjoy.
For just 50 euros paddlers got breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 days as well as race entry and camping on the edge of the Tara Canyon. Kayak Fest Tara in Montenegro should be added to the calendar of every kayak club and paddling posse. Turquoise, crystal clear water. Warm, sunny weather. Mellow whitewater. And a friendly yet exciting 7-meter ramp. Montenegro is small country with stunning rivers, rich food and culture and a budding whitewater community.
For the second year, Kayak Fest Tara brought together paddlers from all over the world (12 countries this year) to race in three events; downriver mass start, boater cross head-to-head and a skill testing rope race. Over 150 spectators cheered from shore, beers in hand, as the live DJ filled the canyon with beats and kayaks crashed from the ramp to battle it out. Winners from the men’s and women’s categories were from Austria, Slovenia and Canada, highlighting the diversity of the field.
After two night of live music, local food and beer, presentations on whitewater-relevant first aid and a some short films from the Balkan Rivers Tour, the third day of the festival saw the flatwater in front of Camp Grab filled with beginner paddlers, most of which were from nearby cities and towns. Exposing locals to the excitement of the racing scene while giving the change to get in a boat for the first time made this event an inclusive and yet exciting introduction to the wonderful world of whitewater.
Words: Carmen Kuntz Photos: Predrag Vuckovic