National Paddling Film Festival 2018 By Michael Potter

Back in 1982  the first National Paddling Film Festival was held in a barn at the Kentucky Horse Park. This event has become the annual tradition ever since. When I asked Bob Larkin how this event came to transpire, he answered honestly “Just give Kentucky paddlers a reason to throw a party, and they will.”

Fast forward to present day, the NPFF Is now held in Frankfort, Kentucky at the beautiful Buffalo Trace Distillery. This event has of course grown in numbers, and brings new attraction every year, along with traditional representation.

The beer bar was always open for conversation.
The beer bar was always open for conversation.

Buffalo Trace has the space and comfort needed for such an event. It also has the beauty of historical times gone by, while still functioning as a working distillery and distribution center. This combination makes for the perfect event setting.

Tables were lined with representatives from multiple outdoor recreation companies such as Liquid logic, Jackson kayak, Orion Coolers, and Cronin Inflatables. Organizations were represented such as, but not limited to American Whitewater, Bluegrass Wildwater Association, our very own Dirtbag Paddlers, and Dirtbag Paddlers Active. I also noticed flyers for this years upcoming Nolifest held by USA Raft and Mointain River Guides, organized by Matt Moses.

Jim Staley brought some advertising for Matt Cronin.
Jim Staley brought some advertising for Matt Cronin.

The main attraction this year was Jackson Kayak paddler Nick Troutman, who gave an excellent speach about his paddling travels with his family, wife Emily Jackson, and their kids Parker and Tucker. During his speech he showed many short clips that included him dropping the gnar, and paddling with the family. He concluded his presentation with the last video being his own point of view while dropping Kentucky’s very own Cumberland Falls.

Nick Troutman packing the house.
Nick Troutman packing the house.

After his last thoughts, he opened a Q&A session to the onlookers. Nick tried to avoid the Cumberland Falls incident to no avail. It was inevitable that someone would bring the subject up. The very last question of the night? “How much did Cumberland Falls end up costing you?” Nick laughed and accepted his defeat like a gentleman, then went on to give a detailed account of the process, beginning with dropping the Falls, and finishing with the court process that followed.

Pat Keller, Nick Troutman, John Mello, Emily Jackson, with Parker and Tucker.
Pat Keller, Nick Troutman, John Mello, Emily Jackson, with Parker and Tucker.

Somewhere in the middle of this wonderful speaking event, I tried to snap a picture to put in this very article. Unknowingly I had the flash turned on and literally blinded the entire crowd. For this stupid action of embarrassment, I sincerely apologize, especially to Nick who took the blunt of it all without missing a single word.

There was a silent auction held during the event, with the winners announced somewhere around 9pm. At the closing of the night there were two boats given away to lucky ticket holders. One Liquid Logic given by Pat Keller, and one Jackson Kayak given by Nick himself.

Participants searching the silent auction.
Participants searching the silent auction.

My personal experience was this: having a great time with my friends from DBP while they manned the DBPA table. Among these are Michelle Terrell, Tommy (Whats his name) Hammitt, Kelly Gladden, Jim Stanely, R J Dowell, and special appearance by Deb Johnson and her dirtbag dog (Bugabooboos). Bugabooboos was a smash hit, loving all of the attention from the crowd.

Michael Potter, Deb Johnson, Kelly Gladen, and Baby Bugabooboo the Dirtbag Dog.
Michael Potter, Deb Johnson, Kelly Gladen, and Baby Bugabooboo the Dirtbag Dog.

Our table was situated side by side with Pat Keller, who I spent most of the night talking to. I’m really kind of awkward trying to make conversation with people of Pat’s stature. Let’s face the fact here, what am I going to share with PAT KELLER, that he hasn’t already experienced?

Pat Keller!
Pat Keller!

Well here’s the answer: NOTHING! I did however ask Pat alot of questions about overnight paddling trips, and specific skills. I also (shyly) shared my experience with Kirk Eddlemon on Old White Oak Creek. Halfway through the video, Pat shoulder nudged me and said with a smile “Stop apologizing.” It was at that moment when I eased my tension to realize that Pat is just another cool guy who loves to paddle. He had not let his skillset overcome his sense of humanity.  I can honestly add the words newfound respect to this man.

Michelle Terrell running the table for DBP and DBP Active.
Michelle Terrell running the table for DBP and DBP Active.

Until next year, stay safe and have fun. I had a great time meeting new friends, representing DBP. I was also happy to see so much intrest in DBPA this year. Cheers my friends.

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  • mm

    DBP Executive editor and Web Head Honcho! Paddling and taking photos in the UK.

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