Upcoming canoe, kayak race among Caribou rec’s many spring offerings

CARIBOU, Maine — The snow is melting away, days are getting longer, and the Caribou Parks and Recreation Department is offering several spring programs, including an upcoming canoe and kayak race on May 15.

It will mark the second canoe race slated for Aroostook County, following the popular Meduxnekeag River canoe race on May 1.

The Caribou race begins at 10 a.m. at the Lower Lyndon Street Boat Launch and will go 6.2 miles along the Aroostook River, ending at Forbes Pit. The department is accepting in-person pre-registration at the rec center on 55 Bennett Drive, with the first 75 receiving T-shirts. Participants can also register on the day of the race from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

Fees are $20 per paddle for boaters 19 and over, and $10 for 18 and under. Boats will be released two at a time in one-minute intervals once the race starts, and the city will provide a shuttle service back to the starting point of the race once it ends. 

Cash prizes will be awarded to first places based on the class of their boat and type: $40 to winners with open class two-person canoes and kayaks as well as recreational class two-person canoes and kayaks; and $20 to open class solo canoes and kayaks well as recreational class male and female solo winners in canoes and kayaks. 

Coast Guard-approved life jackets must be worn, and all Maine boating laws need to be followed. 

Parks and Recreation Program Director Neal Sleeper said the event has been held in the past, and formerly ran from the Little Madawaska River Dam to the bridge behind DoDo’s Market.

Sleeper said the city is partnering with the Caribou Fire & Ambulance Department, the Caribou Police Department, and the Maine Warden Service to help make the race happen.

“The presence from the other departments will help ensure a safe experience for the participants,” he said. “This is a family friendly event.”

Aside from the upcoming race, Sleeper said there are several programs happening now and coming up in the future, including spring training baseball, Bogey Monsters Golf, track & field, babysitter training, ATV safety courses, the City Wide Yard Sale, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway programs, in addition to kayaking, biking, fishing, and golf. 

He said registration for the Caribou Rec Outdoor Camp, which includes backpacking trips, will go live on May 1.

As of April 7, a booklet is not yet available for these programs, but Sleeper said they should be online shortly. 

Beyond these programs, Sleeper said the recently opened tennis courts at the rec center have seen a great community response.

“Traffic was instantaneous as soon as the nets were hung, then the weather cooled and play dropped off,” he said. “But with the weather improving, play will surely be on the increase. We are installing brand new wind nets on the perimeter of the course.”

For the time being, the dog park located near the former Sincock Administrative Building on Main Street is closed until the ground dries.

“With the forecast not showing any major rain, it will hopefully lead to conditions beginning to dry up,” he said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience. With warm days and nights, things should start progressing quickly.”

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