Special Thank Yous to Jim Lewis for the wonderful photography work!
The seventeenth (WOW!) annual Midwest Canoe Symposium was held the weekend of September 9-11 this year, and it was an event not to be missed, on several counts…
Before the event even started, there was an issue: Camp Butler was having difficulties repairing the dam that creates Lake Litchfield, so all paddling was restricted to the smaller lake, near the camp entrance. Work was required to make the lake navigable… so Bob, Bruce, and Marc spent a lot of time removing aquatic vegetation from the lake, so the Classes and Exhibition could occur, without fear of swamp monsters. It was a huge job; they pulled out canoe loads of plants. Rumor has it that at least some of this fresh, hydroponically grown vegetation made it into the salads, but I’m a bit skeptical about that.
The 2&1/2 days of outstanding Canoe Classes and Special Topics Sessions commenced Friday morning, including Instructor Updates in River Canoe, River Kayak, Intro to Canoe, Intro to Kayak, Canoe Camping, Touring Canoe, basic paddling efficiency and freestyle classes, and a class in canoe poling, which is always fun. In some sessions, the small class sizes gave the participants one-on-one instruction, which is always well appreciated by the participants.
The big event for the weekend, of course, occurred as Jim Satrape and Manon Paquet tied the proverbial knot, surrounded by the lake and a crowd of well-wishing family and friends!
The weather forecast for the Saturday afternoon wedding ceremony wasn’t particularly good as of Friday morning, so Plan B, as well as Plan C, were developed, just in case the ceremony had to move under a picnic shelter, or indoors. Amazingly enough, though, as Saturday afternoon progressed, the skies started looking clearer, and the lakeside site was given the nod. Jim and Manon paddled solo canoes from opposite ends of the lake, to the ceremonial circle, where Kathleen Pichola handled the administrative duties. Following the ceremony, the newlyweds paddled off in their tandem Colden Starfire, with Jim paddling, and Manon casually sitting facing Jim, courting-canoe style. She even had a parasol that matched her dress… that’s pretty classy!
Of course, the lake has nowhere to really paddle off to, so they then paddled back to the ceremony site. As they approached, a lot of people in canoes formed a pair of lines, and held paddles up to salute the couple as they paddled through the “tunnel.” Amazingly enough, right up until this point, there had been some gusty winds, which threatened to blow the two lines of canoes all over the lake. During this concluding paddle-by, however, the wind was completely calm, and everything went off smoothly. I think Mother Nature’s looking out for Jim & Manon…
The Freestyle Exhibition was held Sunday. There were about ten performers, both solos and tandems, and the caliber of the performances was quite high. The smooth, efficient paddling throughout the Exhibition demonstrated the degree of commitment these canoeists have to the sport of Freestyle Canoeing, and the big smiles demonstrated the enjoyment they find in putting together a routine, and then performing it for an audience. It’s just good, clean fun! Tom Fink has video of the performances, which might be available by the end of January. Processing and editing all that video is a huge “spare time” project for Tom, so please be patient…
The Amorphous Freestyle Canoe String Band played three nights in a row. By Saturday evening, they sounded pretty good. No, really! They did!
Of course, writing a review of MCS without mentioning the food would constitute Dereliction Of Duty. Yes, the food was fabulous again, and yes, I gained six pounds again. How does that happen in just three days? The staff reached for new heights this year, with some tasty new recipes, and the garden-fresh blackberries augmented the fruit bowls quite nicely. If that weren’t enough, the syrup made from the blackberries for the Sunday Morning Pancakes was out of this world!
Many, many thanks to the All-Star Executive Chef Committee! The effort you put into feeding everyone is tremendous, and it is surely appreciated! THANK YOU!!!