The idyllic weather we have experienced this week almost makes us forget about the miserable steam bath that was the outdoor norm the week before. Fortunately that broke just in time for last Saturday's annual Paddle & Portage regatta. Things got started a little late, but the agreeable weather and some energetic event administration resulted in a fine time for all.
In total, 802 participants launched 417 watercraft of various descriptions (though most were canoes) into the waves of Lake Mendota for a mile-and-a-half loop. That was followed by a portage across the isthmus, and then a mile-and-a-half row across Lake Monona to Turville Point in Olin Park. There paddlers were rewarded with beer and brats, T-shirts and beribboned medals for placing in the myriad divisions of competition. Oh, and a goodly number of participants wore costumes.
All this was accomplished by a score or more of volunteers who helped set up, tear down and do all the things in between. The core of the operation were Janell Palmer, Isthmus' marketing and events manager, and events coordinator Courtney Lovas. They were the ones people went to when the unanticipated occurred or the anticipated did not.
After some Madison's Favorites recognitions in August and the Isthmus Indie Awards in November, the next big event for Isthmus and the dynamic duo is the Isthmus Food & Wine Festival on Friday evening, Oct. 18, and Saturday afternoon, Oct. 19, at the Alliant Energy Center. Tickets for that gustatory lollapalooza go on sale Aug. 1.
Plans are expanded from last year's inaugural Food & Wine Fest; there will be libations other than wine, and food sampling and demonstrations. We're still adding attractions. So we'll follow the firm of Palmer and Lovas there. After all, they've already led us successfully over land and sea.