Over 500 paddles join Ridgefield’s Big Paddle event this year

The 2019 Big Paddle in Ridgefield saw many kayaking and canoeing down Lake River

RIDGEFIELD — Over 500 kayaks, canoes and paddle boards took to the water for this year’s Big Paddle in Ridgefield.

Participants in the 9:30 a.m. paddle set off down Lake River in Ridgefield. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Participants in the 9:30 a.m. paddle set off down Lake River in Ridgefield. Photo by Jacob Granneman

“The original intent of Big Paddle is to celebrate the water trail, the natural resources that we have here and to encourage people to enjoy them,” said Lee Knottnerus, the deputy city manager for the city of Ridgefield. “But also, take care of the resources that we have.”  

Big Paddle began when the 32-mile trail from Vancouver Lake to the Columbia River was first established; as well as a way of celebrating National Trails Day. It has been an iconic Ridgefield tradition ever since.

On the shore, the Big Paddle hosted a myriad of booths and vendors selling all manner of crafts and services. Photo by Jacob Granneman
On the shore, the Big Paddle hosted a myriad of booths and vendors selling all manner of crafts and services. Photo by Jacob Granneman

The day began at 9 a.m. with the traditional Chinook Tribe blessing of those out on the water, and then the first group was off. Men and women, young and old, children and animals, all racing down the Lake River to the confluence with the mighty Columbia River.

On shore, vendors lined the Ridgefield Marina field, selling food, crafts and services. The local Boy Scouts Troop even hosted a tomahawk throwing range.

Downtown Ridgefield featured Ridgefield’s First Saturday at Overlook Park with the Ridgefield Farmer’s Market, a Follow-the-Fish trail, live music, a wine garden with Windy Hills Winery, face painting, and Big Games. Big Games included frisbee checkers, giant Jenga, cornhole, and sidewalk chalk. Friends of the Ridgefield Community Library hosted a used book sale.

Ethan Dulay, of the local Boy Scouts troop, practices throwing a tomahawk at the scouts’ throwing range during the Big Paddle. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Ethan Dulay, of the local Boy Scouts troop, practices throwing a tomahawk at the scouts’ throwing range during the Big Paddle. Photo by Jacob Granneman

The second of the two excursions out onto the water began at 1:30 p.m. but without the interpretive additions of the main, earlier paddle.

“So many people that live here come out, and have the opportunity to enjoy their neighbors,” Knottnerus said. “And we also have people that come from very far away to introduce them to this great city that is Ridgefield.”  

Members of “Chicamarimba” play upbeat and joyful tunes on their variously sized marimbas during the on shore Big Paddle celebration. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Members of “Chicamarimba” play upbeat and joyful tunes on their variously sized marimbas during the on shore Big Paddle celebration. Photo by Jacob Granneman

Tractor rides, a large children’s obstacle course and volleyball were also main attractions of the community event, with, perhaps, the most unique display being a group of women playing wooden marimbas as the backdrop to the upbeat day.


For more information of upcoming events like the Big Paddle, visit http://www.ridgefieldbigpaddle.com/.

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a recent graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College, where he studied media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and in Argentina. His passions range from loving people, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife in Vancouver, WA.

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