Hank Annable of Oberlin has been paddling the Vermilion River since he was a Boy Scout in 1942. So take it from him that the river's twists and turns make the 36th annual Vermilion River Race one of the most challenging area competitions for amateur canoers and kayakers alike.
It's an eight-mile contest that features 60 entrants in 17 divisions (from men's and women's individual races to mixed and masters' classes). In the days leading up to the event, organizers make sure the waters will deliver a safe route. "We lead a group down with chainsaws to unblock the river of debris," explains Annable, a charter member of the Keel-Haulers Canoe Club, Ohio's largest organization for amateur paddlers.
Because the race route is lined with boulders, brush, and cliffs, the best views of the action are overhead -- from a pair of bridges that span the course and mark the finish line. The top three finishers in each division collect coveted prizes: T-shirts. "Hey, this isn't a professional race," Annable laughs. "It's strictly for fun." It starts at 10:30 a.m. Sunday between Schoepfle Gardens on Market Street in Birmingham and Mill Hollow Park in the Vermilion Run Reservation, 51211 North Ridge Road in Vermilion. Admission is free; call 440-871-1758. -- Cris Glaser
Birds of a feather party in Killbuck Marsh.
You're gonna need your map-reading skills for Saturday's Shreve Spring Migration Sensation. The daylong event is centered on various birds' seasonal return to the area's nearly 5,500 acres of wetland. With workshops, lectures, live music, hikes, and children's programs planned, it's the celebration of the year for the little town known as the "gateway to Amish country." "Shreve has only one traffic light," laughs spokesperson Jackie Chamberlain. "But we have Ohio's largest inland wetlands." She's talking about Killbuck Marsh, where much of the action takes place. It happens from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Shreve Elementary School, 598 North Market Street in Shreve. Admission is $5, $10 for families; call 800-362-6474. -- Diane Sofranec