Paddle Extra-“oar”-dinaire

BENDERDINKER Paddle Extra-“oar”-dinaire

Photography by Addie Strozier

It’s a paddle, a concert and a festival all in one. It’s the fifth annual Benderdinker.

Benderdinker is no “oar”-dinary event. The winning combination of a leisurely paddle on the Savannah River, plus good music, good food and a fun-filled festival, add up to a great time for all.

Faithful ’Dinkers are familiar with the itinerary.  For the uninitiated, the playlist goes something (well, actually a lot) like this – (a) enjoy a leisurely six-mile paddle on the Savannah River; (b) listen to awesome musicians play on pontoon boats and sample foods from local growers at stops along the route; (c) stick around for more music, food and lawn games at the post-paddle Riverfest.

“Benderdinker grows every year,” says Kristina Williams, who founded the event. “I just want people to have fun, get outdoors, enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the river.”

Paddlers can sample locally sourced food such as “branch mix” with Georgia peanuts, local pecans and Georgia blueberries; BBQ nacho shots and boiled or roasted peanuts. Water and sweet tea will be available as well.

For paddlers’ listening pleasure, country musicians Daniel Johnson, Me and Molly, Nick Brown and Jason White will pull double duty on water and on land. The Mason Jars, who have performed at Benderdinker in the past, will play at the festival only.

“We always have good musicians, but this year we have several Nashville recording artists,” Williams says.

Riverfest lawn games will include corn hole, giant tic tac toe, ladder ball, mini disc golf and bocce ball. If teamwork is more to your liking, then you can join a pickup sand volleyball game. Outdoor sports vendors will offer demos of their wares. Twisted Burrito will provide food at the festival, and thirsty festivalgoers – well, those who are at least 21 – can cool off with craft beer.

Proceeds from the event benefit Augusta Locally Grown and Benderdigger. Augusta Locally Grown gives residents the opportunity to purchase locally grown food at area farmers markets and from its online market. Benderdigger is a youth foodie program that teaches children how to grow, find, harvest and prepare healthy food.

Registration for the paddle is available online through Monday, April 25. Paddlers that prefer to do things the old-fashioned way (and avoid extra fees), can register in person at Escape Outdoors. Check-in will be held 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, April 29 and 8-10 a.m. Saturday, April 30.

If You  Go:

What: Benderdinker 

When: Saturday, April 30; paddle launches 10-11:30 a.m.; Riverfest noon-5 p.m.

Where: Riverside Park at Betty’s Branch, Evans

How Much: $35 per vessel in advance; $40 per vessel day of event. Cost to rent a kayak or canoe is not included. Food, beer and other beverages will be available for purchase at the festival.

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