Groups paddle homemade canoes during annual River Festival event
Carlie Wilson | Staff Writer
In an event that tests competitors’ abilities to keep “H.U.P.” with the competition, the Grayling Chamber of Commerce’s annual Hurry Up and Paddle event was a success on Wednesday, July 25, during the AuSable River Festival, drawing a large amount of teams and spectators and raising hundreds of dollars for the Chamber.
The event encourages local businesses and organizations to purchase canoe kits and to form teams that will compete head to head against other groups. The competition not only tests boat durability, but the time in which it takes for a team to finish the short looped course.
Perhaps one of the most unique parts of the event is that the judges of the event are members of the Circuit Court in Grayling, aided by a guest judge who has happily volunteered his time over the years.
Monte Burmeister, Circuit Court judge and H.U.P. Race judge, says that his favorite part of the H.U.P. Race is “the dancing on stage by the paddlers.”
Colin Hunter, another Crawford County judge, said, “I love watching people capsize. It’s always a crowd favorite.”
“I think my favorite part of the whole event is that a lot of the ‘paddlers’ can’t actually paddle, and a lot of them just sit there and struggle but don’t move anywhere. And as a result, the other team ends up beating them pretty badly,” said Joe Smock, the special guest judge of the event.
“We search for penalties. A lot of them lie in the way the boats were made. If we find screws in there or there is extra wood, we have to punish them,” said Burmeister.
Of all of the punishments the judges give, Judge Burmeister says that “drilling holes in the boats” is his favorite.
In a slight turn of events this year, the drill came up missing, and as a result, the judges had to get a little bit creative, opting to use a pocket knife to carve holes in the boats.
“The chicken dance is my favorite punishment. I love seeing teams get nervous and goof around on stage,” said Smock.
“Our favorite part of doing this is getting to be out in the community and having fun. Seeing everybody enjoy such a wonderful event that is both fun and is one that donates a lot of money to the community,” said Smock. “It’s pretty cool to see the imagination and different designs and paint jobs.”
Judge Burmeister, Judge Hunter, and Smock offer a token of wisdom to any and all future participants in the event: “Start training in January, paddle every week. Never use a builder to craft your boat, as those always tend to sink. And last but not least, we always accept bribes.”
The winner of this year’s race was the Grayling Firefighters Association, with rookie team Arauco snagging second place. The Sinker award went to Forest of Fear, with the judges finding their sink to be the most memorable. The Best Costume Award went to Grayling Physician Network, even though McLean’s ACE Hardware came in close second with their Macho Man costume. Perhaps one of the judge’s favorite awards to give out – the “Haven’t Got a Clue” award – was given to McLean’s ACE Hardware for their memorable sink and inability to paddle to the finish.
Rounding out the awards, the People’s Choice Award went to Rolling Oak Brewing Co., and the last award of the night, the Judge’s award, went to River House Inc. for their beautiful steamboat design.