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Organizers cancel popular canoe race when river gets too high, fast

HOULTON, Maine — Organizers say they had no choice but to cancel the annual Meduxnekeag River Race Saturday morning after heavy rains the night before made the waterway too high and fast. 

Jane Torres, executive director of the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce, said Saturday she was disappointed the race had to be canceled, but stated it was better to air on the side of caution.

“We were out early Saturday morning checking the water, and had an experienced canoer with us, and we decided it was just too dangerous,” Torres said Saturday. “There were spots in river where there were white caps because the water was moving so swiftly.”

It marks the first time in at least a decade that the race has been canceled.

The race typically draws upward of 100 participants, but the skill level of those paddlers can vary dramatically. For some, the event is competitive, but for others, it is more of a leisurely stroll down the river, Torres said.

Rescheduling the race was not an option, Torres said, because the event was part of a statewide series of races, leaving no available weekends to make it up.

“The only spot we could find was Mother’s Day, but we didn’t think that would be a good idea,” she said.

The event is one of the larger fundraisers for the local chamber, so Torres said she will be looking for other ways to bring in money this year.

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