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Drake's Creek Watershed Festival

The Upper Green River Watershed  Watch and Kentucky Waterways Alliance reached out to us to be a partner for the first annual Drakes Creek Watershed Festival. The day kicked off at Romanza Johnson Park where participants engaged in a paddle safety training courtesy of Nat's Outdoor Store and Explore Kentucky Initiative crew members/ American Canoe Association paddlesports instructors, David and Dennis Hudson, Shara Sumner, & Scott Workman. Over 65 people took to the water to paddle the 6+ mile trip to Phil Moore Park, where the land portion of the Watershed Festival kicked up off with educational booths, activities, and raffle prizes that served close to 200 people.

Program Highlights

  • Explore Kentucky crew members and American Canoe Association instructors Shara Sumner, David and Dennis Hudson, and Scott Workman coached new paddlers on various technique, paddle strokes, as well identifying river features, hazards and river signals.

  • Over 50 individuals floated for free of charge in canoes and kayaks provided by Western Kentucky University's Outdoor Recreation Center.

  • Explore Kentucky in the role of as an affiliate club of the United States Canoe Association helped provide insurance coverage for the paddling portion of the festival.

  • Participants received a passport that was stamped at every station for every activity they created. Once the participant had a full passport, they were eligible for various prizes such as life jackets, gift cards, and the grand prize, a recreational kayak.

Date: October, 8 2016

Attendance: 200

Ages served: 5 yrs old+







Fellow sponsors and nonprofit partners:


RIverthoN: The Ohio RIver Challenge

The Explore Kentucky Initiative served as sponsor for Louisville based nonprofit River City Paddlesports Inc.'s marque event, "Riverthon"; a series of paddlesports races that take place on the Ohio River in the Greater Louisville region in the distances of 7, 22, and 50 miles.  EKI's sponsorship consisted of running a robust marketing, social media, public relations, and outreach campaign.  Previous years had only attracted on average 30 paddlers. EKI made it a goal to reach 100 paddlers for the 2016 and exceeded that goal.

Race Highlights

  • Over $5K was garnered from registration fees.

  • The economic impact of Riverthon was over $15K to the Greater Louisville Area.

  • Paddlers came from over 10 states. The furthest racer traveled was from Dade City, Florida.

  • Branding Director, Josh Patton using creative direction/photos from EKI's Director, Gerry James; designed a vibrant, engaging, and retro-inspired race poster that were distributed at over 100 locations across the country. Josh also designed a premium dri-fit tech shirt that all paddlers received. 

Date: September, 15 2016

Attendance: 113

Ages served: 20 yrs old+









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In My Backyard: Red River Gorge

We collaborated with the Powell County Public Library (PCPL) to create an outdoor recreational festival as part of PCPL'S summer reading program and the first in our series of IMBY: In My Backyard Festivals fueled by a grant from Powell County Tourism. The premise was to engage the residents of Powell County to become involved with all the awesome outdoor recreational and nature watching opportunities that the Red River National Geological Area and surrounding area offers for interested explorers of all demographics: hiking, photography, rock climbing, nature watching, kayaking, trail running, fishing, orienteering, and more. Additionally we hope participants walked away striving become stewards of the environment, take ownership of the amazing landscape in their backyard, and to build self confidence through adventure just as the famed rock climber, Alex Honnold author of "Alone on the Wall" (one of PCPL's summer reading program books) has in his rock climbing journey over the past two decades.

Program Highlights

  • The festival featured Q & A sessions, interactive & informational booths, activities including a rock climbing wall, mini bike rodeo, healthy food samplings, and more.
  • Authors John Snell and Carrie Stambaugh did book signings of their respective books; Red River Gorge: My Second Home & Falcon Guide's Hiking Kentucky.
  • Participants earned tickets from each activity they completed they were used to win free raffle prizes including a kayak carrier from Red River Outdoors,  Red River Gorge Zipline passes, a Sheltowee Hammock,  Fly fishing set from Quest Outdoors, climbing passes from L'Escalade Fitness, guided climbing from Torrent Falls, and Alex Honnold’s Bestseller, “Alone on the Wall”.
  • Over 200 individuals attended from all across Kentucky, the local community, surrounding counties, and states including Ohio and Indiana.
  • EKI Crew Member Greg Davis, John Snell, and Gerry James conducted an outdoor photography workshop.
  • Explore Kentucky volunteers provided support for the festival, manned activities, set-up, and break-down. 

Date: June, 25 2016

Attendance: 200+

Ages served: 4 yrs old +








Thanks to all of our sponsors, nonprofit partners, and food vendors: