What is Paddlefest?

Paddlefest is a celebration of the Slave River, one of the world’s best lesser-known whitewater paddling destinations. In Fort Smith, we are blessed to have access to this beautiful and mighty river, where pelicans and paddlers of all skill levels come to play in the world-class whitewater for the August long weekend.

Paddlefest includes all kinds of fun events like flat-water canoe races (tandem and voyageur), guided hikes, kids paddling games, whitewater kayak rodeos and races (beginner and advanced), stand-up paddleboard jousting, a beach-themed party, awards dinners, amazing food, and more!

2023 Paddlefest Dates

August 4th – 7th

Participate in Paddlefest


You can register as a paddler for the whole weekend or just the Flatwater Friday events. With events for paddlers of all experience levels, there’s something for everyone!


Everyone is welcome to watch and show support for paddlers! Land activities passes include entry to all non-water events, including the awards dinner and beach party.


This Festival Goes with the Flow

Every year, Paddlefest draws a number of professional-grade paddlers from around the world, who show off their skills by performing tricks with ridiculous names – Space Godzillas, AirScrews, McNasties and more. It’s a marvel to behold their acrobatics and cheer for them in the surf competitions.

Paddlefest’s Protest Roots

The resolve to sustain a strong paddling community was, in part, because of the threat of a dam. That was always one of the motivating factors — along with the fact that we have the best rapids in the world to experience.

A Pro Paddler’s Perceptions of Paddlefest

The goal was to expose more people to the rapids, so that everyone would start to realize how incredible these rapids are. Of course, the festival has been a huge success. The rapids do all the work. All you have to do is show people the place, and they will fall in love.


Check out some of the fun activities we feature annually!

…and there are more!

Read More About Activities

Photo Contest

Did you bring your camera to capture your favourite Paddlefest moments this year? Share them with us and you could win prizes!