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River rapids, thriving Downtown to be showcased during Cuyahoga Falls Fest

Businesses anticipate major economic impact
Cuyahoga Falls Fest Cuyahoga River
Posted at 5:57 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 18:54:53-04

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — With nice weather in the forecast and people ready to get outdoors and enjoy it, the 2022 Cuyahoga Falls Fest is expected to have a great turnout—seeing travelers from all over the country head into the city to experience the rapids on the Cuyahoga River.

The event began in 2016 as a kayak race down the rapids but has since transformed into an event for all to enjoy.

"It's just a gathering of paddlers that originated as the Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race and then we eventually grew it into a fest where we have vendors here on site," said Don Howdyshell, Cuyahoga Falls Fest coordinator. "The fest is a gathering of kayakers and paddlers, so you could see anything from kayaks to rafts to a raft type called a shredder. You could see canoes, we've had white water canoes down here."

The river has a range of rapids for all experience levels, from Class I rapids to the more intense Class V+ rapids near the Upper Gorge area, and Cuyahoga Falls is home to them all.

Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters said that people are drawn into the area for the annual event, not only to experience the challenge of the rapids, but to take in all of the other sights and sounds along the riverfront.

"We're probably one of the best spots east of the Mississippi, so they come here all over just to do that challenging white water," Walters said. "We have all these different groups that want to come in and enjoy our town...a lot have never seen our beautiful Downtown."

Along Front Street, guests will be able to enjoy live music, grab bites to eat from local restaurants and shop from local vendors on site while enjoying the outdoors and the action on the river.

"A traditional fest is usually out in the woods and no cities nearby," Howdyshell said. "So while we don't have a campsite, we do have restaurants, stores, breweries—everything within walking distance."

Those restaurants, stores and breweries are expecting a big turnout for Cuyahoga Falls Fest, and in turn, a big influx in business.

For JT Haught, owner of Falls Outdoor Company, this event is the perfect opportunity for people to check out his store.

"Been here now for 10 weeks, extremely happy to be in the community, getting a lot of support from everyone locally and very excited for the Fest," Haught said. "It's very beneficial for not only my business but the city itself. We have a great river that everyone should be taking advantage of, a national park in our backyard...I think it's going to be great exposure for everyone, all businesses down here."

While river enthusiasts have a lot of options to choose from in his store, which sells watercraft, camping gear and other outdoor tools and accessories, they'll also be looking to get some fuel to keep their paddles moving—which is why places like the Farmer's Rail are also looking forward to the event.

"It's the perfect spot to bring all these people together, be active, have a drink afterward and just really uplift keeping our dollars right here in Cuyahoga Falls," said owner Melanie Brunty. "I just imagine it being a sea of people, I mean we've all been cooped up for so long."

Brunty's butcher shop and restaurant is preparing for a surge of customers Saturday during Cuyahoga Falls Fest and is excited for the boost it will bring to the heart of the city.

That boost is also expected to be seen in businesses like the Sheraton Suites, as people traveling into the city look for a place to stay nearby.

"We would love it to see more people come in and spend the day with us and spend the night and enjoy all the attractions that downtown Cuyahoga Falls has to offer," said Jeff Lynch, Vice President and General Manager of Sheraton Suites. "We're hoping that we can really be kind of the epicenter of all of the river adventures for Cuyahoga Falls."

While the city doesn’t have an exact estimate for the expected economic impact, this year’s festival is expected to give Cuyahoga Falls a major boost.

“It’s hard to put a dollar amount on that but there’s a huge economic impact and we know that people will come back," Walters said. "When we get them here for this event we hope that they’ll come back and we think they will.”

Cuyahoga Falls Fest is set to take place Saturday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. To learn more, click here.

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