ONCE YOU GO DIRTBAG… YOU’LL NEVER GO BACK ~ DBP celebrates our 2nd Birthday. by Chicago Toughill

Chicago serving up WALLACE at work

It’s an amazing thing. 
I never would have conjured up this situation in my wildest dreams two years ago…
There we were, camping and paddling the Youghiogheny River in PA, just three good buddies sharing a summer weekend far away from the responsibilities of raft guiding, out for a rip with no one to tend to but ourselves. We played hard all day, and settled back at night to WALLACE Yuenglings and talk about the past, present, and our futures. Just Jason Flannery, Nick Guarniere, and I. Three good boatin’ buddies. 
There was that phrase again: dirtbag. Hey, we should start a movement. We will call it Dirtbag Rafters. We will spread the WALLACE, make merry, hook up all of our boatin’ buddies back home in Wisconsin. Nah… Let’s call it Dirt Bag Paddlers. The world is divided enough, let’s bring people together. We’ll put up pics of us and our buddies doing awesome things, sing the praises of our glorious local runs, throw a party or two?, and generally offend people without trying too hard. And so it was born… DBP. 

Editor-in-Chief contemplates WALLACE with a river-temp PBR. Mmmm, Dirtbaggin’… 

Now here I am two years later. Lots has changed. Flan has married and lives in Oregon. Nick and his girl have a little boy. And Dirt Bag Paddlers has grown to a worldwide force on Facebook, with well over 100 Admins from every corner of the globe posting to 8,000 fans (number 8,000 just signed up yesterday afternoon!). We just posted our 900th picture on our Instagram account, closing in on 2850 followers. So yeah, although we never thought about it when we did our first posts, pictures from Ohiopyle, on our page two years ago, we most definitely have brought the worldwide community together. 

Out for a rip… Chicago and Flan 

Sure, we’ve alienated plenty of people along the way with bad language and questionable conduct, probably another 800 fans. But we’ve learned to bring respect, and we’ve committed to doing good through donating to organizations we support with both cash and gear; raising awareness on environmental issues, crimes, and other topics not being covered by the main stream; highlighting good people toiling in the shadows and history that may have faded away without a voice to recall and trumpet the deeds; and other things. Every day a new idea comes to the fruitful minds of the ever creative Dirtbags I’ve gathered to the banner. 
DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE is one such endeavor. We’ve been up and running for nine months now, and it has been such a rewarding project. Covering events, interviewing people, highlighting artists and small businesses, telling stories from the past, bringing together fantastic authors from all over the globe, and more, has changed my life. I am stoked to work with the other Editors on staff, namely F. Wes Breitenbach, Kevin “Taz” Riggs, and Alex DePue. We have more projects coming that should keep us all entertained for a long time to come! And it’s all done and delivered for free, in the true spirit of Dirtbaggin’.

So where are we heading? Well, once we built the framework after Gauley Fest 2013, the core group at that time – Frank Sade, Ollie El-Gamel, Bernhard Klee, Tara Kealiher, Ryan Waterhouse, Kelly Gladen, Tony Lynn, Richard White, Matt Phelan, Dale Guarniere, François Savard, Mackenzie Bryant, Justin Harris, Dan McCain, and Robert Delgado to name only a few (some have gone, to be replaced by others, but regardless I remember you ALL) agreed that we would reach 10,000 likes in three years, and them set out to travel and paddle the world with the friends that we would make. I pursued that goal with my heart and soul, and the personal contacts I’ve been blessed to make have made it all worth so much more than collecting “likes”. And I can sit here today and say, “Well… Two down and only 2 thousand to go! Let’s give it a go, Dirtbags… Together. Cheers!!!”

DBP Admin Kelly Gladen and Chicago pounding it out on the Upper Gauley

DBP-New Zealand Admin Lee Laughton hit me up yesterday to congratulate me on this milestone. If you know me personally, I’m not one who really likes the limelight or taking individual credit for what I consider a team endeavor. Lee said to me via Facebook Messenger: “Happy dirt bag birthday !!! I remember when I joined, I was in the 800’s when it came to “Likes”. Be proud, you have done well !” 
My response was: “WE”
To which Lee replied: “No mate, this belongs to you!!  Your inspiration has got 8000 like minded people together and turned them into a huge family. It was a pleasure looking at this page every night and it’s now an honour to be a part of it.”
My response: “Ok, I’ll take it
(Huge smile). Thanks again homie.” THANK YOU ALL!!! 
So yeah… I don’t know where the hell we are headed, homies… But it should be wet, wild and full of WALLACE. #OneLove
{EDITOR’S note: Today, in celebration of our second birthday, we are also kicking off the ULTIMATE DIRTBAG SUMMER ~ Video Contest on the Dirt Bag Paddlers Facebook page. To enter, post your own Vimeo or YouTube clip to our page with the hashtag #UltimateDirtBagSummer to be entered. We will be featuring a few of the top posts in an article here, and the Winner will receive a fat stack of swag collected from our friends from around the community. Entry now thru August 31st. FIRE IT UP!} 
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