National canoe races headed to Lock Haven

It will be at least another two years until the national canoe races return.

Warren County has been a regular stopping point for the U.S. Canoe Association’s National Canoe and Kayak Championships for the past 10 years.

In 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, the U.S. Canoe Association’s culminating event was held here. The same venue cannot host nationals in consecutive years.

The number of participants decreased over the years and the event has trended away from Warren County.

When Warren did not secure the event again in 2011, some USCA members speculated that the members at large, although they enjoy their visits to Warren, wanted to go to new and different places for Nationals.

The event returned to Warren County in 2012.

And it will not be back before 2015.

Newaygo, Mich., will host the event in 2013, and Lock Haven, won the bid for 2014 earlier this month. The Lock Haven and Jersey Shore area has hosted nationals in the past.

The Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry, and President and CEO Jim Decker and Council on Tourism Director John Papalia in particular, are responsible for successfully bringing the association and its members to town five times in 10 years.

WCCBI did not put in an application for 2014.

“We were aware that there would be several bids for 2014 including the Lock Haven bid,” Papalia said. “We maintain a close relationship with the PACK (Pennsylvania Association of Canoeing and Kayaking) organization and chose not to put a competing bid in for the 2014 event.”

Local officials are not sure how having the nationals in Pennsylvania next year will impact their chances of bringing the event back to Warren County in 2015, but they plan to give it a try.

“Lock Haven and Warren do not conflict,” Susan Williams, who is president of both USCA and PACK, said. “We hope (Warren) will bid again next year.”

That’s the plan.

“We will remain in contact with PACK and USCA members and officials in anticipation of submitting a bid for the 2015 event,” Papalia said.

There is precedent for the event being held in the same state in consecutive years. In 1992 and 1993, the national competition was held in Lewistown and Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, respectively. In 1980 and 1981, they were held in Wabash and Lafayette, Indiana.

Since 1968, Wabash, Jersey Shore, and Marinette, Wis., are the only venues other than Warren to host the event three times. Of those, Jersey Shore’s were in the shortest span – 1987 to 1998. Warren has hosted five times.