If there is one thing the Ottawa Valley has in abundance, it is water and dirt.
The town of Petawawa has roped in surrounding regions to celebrate that, with the second annual Water and Dirt Festival.
“We are surrounded by water, trails, nature, and we just want to show everyone what we have here,” Petawawa recreation coordinator Colin Coyle said.
“This [festival] basically showcases everything from paddling to mountain biking to trail runs, volleyball, bike park. There’s 12 different events you can compete in.”
While showing out as an outdoors and extreme sports festival spanning three weeks, the Water and Dirt Festival is being used as a vehicle for tourism.
Organizers say the event has doubled in size this summer, bringing in 1,200 competitors.
“We have had visitors last week that came in from New York and Toronto and all the way from Florida to the little old Ottawa Valley to take part in what we have here,” Coyle said.
“With the hope that, great they come up for a weekend but maybe they fall in love with it and come back for vacations and rent cottages.”
A vast array of events were held on Saturday. Canoeists, kayakers, and paddle boarders were invited to bring their pets to Melissa Bishop Park and participate in a Doggy Paddle in support of the local SPCA.
BMX and mountain bikers also competed in a dirt jump competition in Petawawa.
“This is a big eye-opener for how many different events the township can actually run,” Kemptville-based mountain biker Josh Tessier said. “And I used to live here.”
“Other townships come here and use this as a kind of example,” said Steve Moreau of Petawawa’s dirt jump setup, who organized the competition.
“Other ones are smaller. This is the most progressive one and they give you the most options.”
Beach volleyball was also introduced as a new event at this year’s festival.
“So we’ve got amazing beaches here in the Ottawa Valley and we thought what better way to celebrate having dirt as playing some beach volleyball outside and getting dirty,” volleyball tournament director Connie Ladas said.
“I think it’s working great,” added volleyball player Levi Vermeer.
“I got a couple of friends who came here not even for the volleyball, but just to see the container market. They are going mini golfing. So it’s getting more people out here. We’re having fun. I’d say so far so good.”
The Water and Dirt Festival runs in Petawawa and surrounding areas until Aug. 27.
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