Race Preview: Midwest Paddle Festival

Ladies and Gentlemen, we had our doubts, but the first confirmed event of the 2020 season is upon us! The Midwest Paddle Festival has confirmed that they have all the necessary permits and approvals needed to hold an event and are pushing forward. With that said, we should temper our expectations, as the current health crisis has severely limited the organizers ability to plan. The event is expected to be more grassroots in nature, but nonetheless, we’ll get to paddle with friends, old and new.

The event: Put on by Paddleboard Specialists one of the premier shops in the US, this event was traditionally one of the larger events on our schedule. Here’s last year’s recap.

Reminder to register online – you can register here.
3 Mile Race – $25
6 Mile Race – $40

What can I paddle?
ALL CRAFTS are welcome. Note, you may not qualify for awards if there are not a minimum number in your class.

Stuff to do: Located between Madison and Milwaukee in an area with a ton of lakes and the Rock River, you’ll have no trouble finding great paddling. Head over to Madison for a great college town vibe, or Milwaukee to re-enact your favorite Laverne & Shirley fantasies. The Wisconsin Dells (waterpark mecca) are less than 2 hours away if you need to bribe the kids. All the PBR and cheese your heart can take.

How to get there: Milwaukee’s Mitchell airport (MKE) is less than 45 minutes away, or Chicago O’Hare is just a touch over 2 hours. For an added adventure, the is a high speed car ferry that crosses lake Michigan from Muskegon to Milwaukee.

Where to stay:
Hilton Garden Inn
Inn at Pine Terrace
Pinewoods Campground
Ottawa Lake Campground

You can also search for Air B&Bs nearby!

The big trip: Come in for this race, spend the week paddling around in either Wisconsin or Michigan, and then take the ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon and head north for the 45 North Festival the following weekend. Two races, one trip!

Photo Doug Vojtko


  1. Sorry, the registration link takes me to PBS homepage, and there is no apparent registration link or any information about the race under Events or any other tab. Also, the link for the 45 North event is bad. Are either of these races on Paddleguru? Thanks!

    1. Thanks Neil, I’ve corrected both links. the Oconomowoc race registration is through the Paddleboard Specialists shop, 45 North is on paddle guru. race Preview for 45 North we be published in the next few days