Cruising on the Creek: Marianna Canoe Race

Washington PA Observer-Reporter
30 April 2016
By Karen Mansfield

Buoyed by a cheering crowd, more than 205 canoes and kayaks wound their way down Ten Mile Creek to the finish line of the 10th Annual Marianna Canoe Race and Anything That Floats on Saturday.
The daylong fundraiser, which concluded with a post-race barbecue and concert, is sponsored by Marianna Outdoorsmen Association and helps raise money to fund stocking trout in the creek.

The race began at 11 a.m., and two watercrafts departed every minute from the creek access off Main Street in Marianna, heading for the finish line 3.2 miles downstream. To determine the winners, each boat was timed at the start and the finish lines. Prizes were awarded to the top three finishers in both canoes and kayaks.

Amanda Taylor and her sister-in-law, Kasi Taylor, both of Fredericktown, have participated in the popular event for at least six years.

This year, they were part of a group of 30 friends and relatives who dragged their kayaks and canoes to the creek for the friendly competition.

“We’re water lovers, and we’re boat lovers. This is a pretty special event,” Amanda Taylor said. “I like it because it gets families out and it gets everyone in the community involved.”

In recent years, the Anything That Floats competition has been included, and prizes are awarded for best decorated boat and best team costumes.

In its first year, the race drew 17 canoes and raised $700 that the MOA used to purchase trout from a trout farm in Somerset County.

The race has grown so much over the past few years that in April, the association used $10,000 from race funds to stock more than 3,300 8-inch to 36-inch trout in a four-mile stretch of Ten Mile Creek.
“You’re not going anywhere else in the state of Pennsylvania and finding fish that big unless you’re in Erie,” said Jason White, president of MOA and race coordinator. “This has become the best fishing spot, I bet, not only in Washington County but in Southwestern Pennsylvania.”

The funds raised also will help improve and promote an eight-mile water trail from Marianna to Fredericktown.

White said the MOA is dedicated to preserving the area’s natural resources and promoting recreational activities.

He believes Marianna – an old coal town – and other communities along Ten Mile Creek, have the potential to become vibrant tourism destinations.

“Look at everybody that’s here today. Ultimately, this area should be a family-friendly recreational destination, and Ten Mile Creek is a place where families can take their kids to enjoy the outdoors,” White said. “Look at Ohiopyle, where mom-and-pop shops are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and those shop owners are making enough to stay successful. What’s steadfast is that people like to have a good time and our natural resources here are plentiful, but they’ve been a drastically overlooked resource that we need to utilize.”

The MOA also holds an annual pre-canoe race cleanup.

Following the race, country and rock bands provided entertainment on property owned by a local family, vendors sold their wares, and White’s mother, Michelle, manned a kitchen, where volunteers cooked and sold homemade picnic foods including hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta and desserts.

Last year’s winners, Pat O’Brien and his sons, Sean and Collin, who are both Eagle Scouts, raced down the creek alongside former winners Robbie Scherer and Joshua Nowak, from the Lone Pine/Marianna area.

“It’s been so fun to watch this event grow,” said O’Brien, from the Glyde area, who has competed in the race for the past seven years. “There’s a vibrancy in the community that has been generated by the race. The outdoorsmen association has also done a lot of cleaning up, and people are coming here regularly to fish and to canoe. It’s bringing a recreational vibrancy back to the area.”

Historical interpreters Dave Budinger and Joe Piszczor promoted the annual Whiskey Rebellion Festival, paddling down the creek in a canoe, wearing re-enactors’ clothing and carrying an American flag.
White estimated about 4,000 people attended the race and barbecue.

Among the groups who helped host the race were Beth-Center Youth Baseball League, Izaak Walton League of America, Marianna Lyceum and Marianna Volunteer Fire Department.
“There’s a lot of hard work that goes into this by the community. Everybody comes together,” Nowak said. “It’s hard to get people to come into town, but this is doing it.”

URL for above, to see photos: