More than 100 gather for Winooski River benefit race

Observer courtesy phot by Paddlers take on the Onion River Race and Ramble last weekend outside Richmond.
Observer courtesy phot by
Paddlers take on the Onion River Race and Ramble last weekend outside Richmond.

Approximately 115 boaters and 35 volunteers participated in the 4th annual Onion River Race and Ramble last Sunday – a benefit for the Friends of the Winooski River’s work to protect and restore the Winooski River watershed.

The event is the largest downriver race in Vermont, including competitive and recreational classes ranging from individual to two-person teams for canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. It travels a stretch of the river from the Bolton Dam to Richmond.

The race is part of the New England Canoe and Kayak Racing Association Downriver Series.

“The series has 16 races on its schedule, but I think the Winooski Valley is the most beautiful location that we race,” said race participant Eric Jones. “Certainly no other race start compares to the put-in below the Bolton Dam. What I like best about the race is that it is accessible to paddlers of all levels, but it offers river-reading challenges to even the most experienced racers.”

Following the race, participants enjoyed music, educational demos on the Friends’ stream table model and a light lunch provided by the Beacon Light Grange in Richmond and burgers and hot dogs grilled by Cub Scout Troop 646.

The Winooski River watershed is the largest in the state, starting in Cabot and flowing 90 miles into Lake Champlain, draining over 1,000 square miles. Pollution, sedimentation and other impacts on the Winooski and its tributaries impact Lake Champlain.

The Friends of the Winooski River is dedicated to the protection of the Winooski River watershed through riparian restoration, reduction of stormwater impacts from impervious surfaces and educational programs.

“Although we were founded to protect the Winooski River watershed, more people are starting to recognize us for the race,” said Larry Montague, outreach coordinator for the organization. “What we hope people walk away with – along with prizes and a smile – is the understanding that we need the river for all of its benefits. That’s where our other work comes in, which this race supports.”

For more information about the Friends of the Winooski River, visit