Reel Paddling brings out real fans
By Sue Tiffin
Published June 20, 2017
Kayakers, canoeists and SUP surfers bought almost every ticket for the 12th annual Reel Paddling Film Festival held on June 9 at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion in Haliburton.
Nine films were shown at the event, which was presented by Algonquin Outfitters and helped raise funds for the Fix the Gull fundraising project initiated by WhiteWater Ontario.
Organizers said the first time the festival opened in Haliburton, 35 people showed up. This year, almost 200 people attended. Guests mingled outside the theatre before the show to enjoy food sampling and learn more about outdoor equipment and local area highlights before settling in for the night of films.
“We love paddling, so we love films about paddling,” said Doug Norris of Maple Lake.
Kaitlynne Fischer, a 12-year-old JDHES student, was at the festival with her sister, Rachel, and her dad. She said she goes canoeing every summer in Eagle Lake with her family, though she prefers kayaking.
“I’ve always been interested in this,” she said. “I like seeing videos of it on YouTube. Depending on the angle, it makes it seem like you’re there, but I don’t have to get wet.”
Kaitlynne wasn’t the only film festival guest who watches paddling films online.
Geoff Radbourn, an educational assistant who works as a paddling instructor during the summer months, said he makes a habit of watching videos, too.
“For me, this is what I do for a living, when I’m not out teaching,” he said.
Radbourn said the videos online and at the festival help to showcase different locations and also the skills and techniques of different athletes.
“When I leave, I’m like, ‘let’s go on an adventure!’” said Joleen Thomas, who brought her three kids to the festival.
David Gillespie, president of WhiteWater Ontario, spoke to the crowd before the show about the importance of the Gull River whitewater reserve.
“Whether you’re into padding – competitive or you’re a recreational user – whether you’re an angler or enjoy the trails, we all have a connection to that area.”