The U.S. National Whitewater Center, located just northwest of Charlotte, is an oasis for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s home to the world’s largest man-made whitewater river, over 30 miles of single track, deep water solo climbing, and much more. The USNWC also hosts several outdoor focused festivals throughout the year. This past weekend we rolled the Live Outside and Play van into the 4th annual Tuck Fest.

Tuck Fest is an annual three-day event that “celebrates the outdoor lifestyle through competitions, exhibitions, demos and live music.” The weekend was packed with events for the entire family and an excellent music lineup. For the paddlers, there were kayaking and whitewater SUP competitions. For the land lovers, there was mountain biking and trail running. For a good mix of both, there was an epic deep water solo climbing competition. Vendors from all over flocked to the area to show off their latest outdoor gear. We even got to spend some time with our friends at the La Sportiva tent who had us drooling over the running and climbing shoes that they had available to demo throughout the weekend. Friday and Saturday felt like a day at the beach in mid-July. People were sprawled out by the water, beer in hand, as kayakers smashed the rapids and kids on zip lines flew overhead. A large portion of the crowd was still wearing their numbers from the race they ran earlier in the day.

As usual, we were holding it down in the Blue Ridge Outdoors tent in the main vendor village. It was the perfect spot to watch the deep water solo competition out of the corners of our eyes while we schooled curious attendees on our sponsor’s gear, and gave out plenty of free samples and swag.

The weekend’s music was on-point. By nightfall, the crowd had changed out of their wet gear, grabbed a fresh drink, and snagged a spot on the lawn overlooking the stage. The wind was picking up by Saturday evening. No big deal, right? It was a welcome change from the hot afternoon.

As it turns out the wind was actually blowing in some rough weather. On Sunday morning we woke up to temperatures in the fifties with hard, continuous rain. It was a wash-out. Even so, many of the day’s competitions continued. The USNWC team worked hard to keep the athletes racing and the bands playing. We had high hopes of taking advantage of the playground that is the USNWC on Sunday and Monday. Roxy not-so-secretly wants to get me into acro yoga… However, the heavy rain forced us to change our plans a bit. As we sit here, we’re already discussing plans to come back. See ya soon, Charlotte!

Up next we have Cheat River Fest on May 5th and 6th. Cheat is a celebration of the life that comes each spring. The festival grounds in Albright, W.Va., “will once again become a haven for boaters, music lovers, and families.” Then, on the 7th we have another chance to give back to mother earth. We’re teaming up with Blackwater Outdoor Adventures to host a post-Cheat Fest river cleanup. Make sure to bring a boat and a friend for this one! BWOA has a limited number of canoes available for the cleanup so please RSVP by emailing Jess@blueridgeoutdoors.com and snag one.

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Like the gear we’re rockin’? Check out our sponsors that keep us going on the road!  La SportivaCrazy CreekNational GeographicRovR ProductsSea to SummitMountain HouseLifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine.