General Information


DOGS IN THE PARK –  Coney Island does not allow dogs in the park due to the Board of Health regulations. Dogs can ride with paddlers on Sunday only. 

Enjoy early boat drop off and registration, boat demos, food, refreshments, vendors, great music, gear swap, Smart Start Clinics, Kayak Fishing Tournament and the Paddlefest annual raffle.


Please follow the directions from the parking lot assistants to the boat drop off area. Boats may be dropped off from 9-1 pm only. Boats with sails are not permitted in Paddlefest this year as per the US Coast Guard. (Please make sure you place your boat tag on your boat so it matches up with your wristband boat tag when picking up your boat on the Public Landing.)  


If you are renting a boat please arrive no later than 7:30 am to check-in and pick up your boat. Boats will be located at put in area near the river.  When checking in you will receive a packet that includes your t-shirt and has the rental company listed on the outside of the packet and the actual boat tag with the rental companies name on it inside in a white envelope. It will be marked with the name of the livery you will be renting your boat from.  Take this to the correct tent listed on your packet and wristband to pick up your boat, paddles and life jacket(s). All tents will be marked with the livery name. These include: Twin Creek Kayak & Canoe Rental, Morgans Canoe, Thaxton’s Canoe and Loveland Canoe & Kayak.  Please do not lose your wristband and wear it on the day of the event.  When you finish paddling you will return your boat, paddles and life jackets to the students collecting the boats on the Public Landing in front of the Showboat Majestic.  


If you are paddling in your own boat please use the boat tags given to you at registration for picking up your boat after takeout. It works just like a coat check, we give you two tags, you place one on your wrist and one on your boats. After you take out your boat at the Public Landing, you will take one of the shuttle buses back to Coney Island to pick up your car. You will then return to the Public Landing to get your boat. Your boat tag and tag on  your wrist MUST MATCH. You must also have your purple Paddlefest wristband to board any shuttle bus. Drivers will be instructed to check all passengers. 

Start Times for all events (RACES & FLOAT TRIP)
All 11 mile & 5 mile races will begin between 7:15 am and 7:45 am.  All 8.2-mile paddlers will begin entering the water after all racers are in the water, usually around 7:30 am. Paddlers are required to wear their life jackets (PFD’s) at all times and respect safety rules. The Coast Guard, United States Sail and Power Squadron, Cincinnati Police Department, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Cincinnati Fire and Police, Boone County Kentucky Fire and Rescue, Coast Guard Auxillary, Paddlefest Water Marshalls will be on the water for safety purposes.

The river is CLOSED to all barge and motorized traffic from 7:30 am to Noon for Paddlefest. Please make sure to complete the paddle down river to the Public Landing by noon. The Ohio River reopens to barge and all commercial traffic at NOON.

Event Parking for Coney Island
Parking at Coney Island for boat drop off and event day (Sunday paddle) is 

Event Parking for Downtown
There is no vehicle parking on the Public Landing. Please park in the Sawyer Point lot or at one of the other lots located in the area. Parking meters may also be available and private parking lot charges will be in effect. Parking prices vary per lot. Sawyer Point lot is 

Canoe & Kayak Rental & Boat Return
All rental boats include life jackets and paddles and must be picked up no later than 8:15 am.  All boats not picked up by the deadline time of 8:15 am will be rented to waiting list paddlers. Rental boats, paddles and life jackets must be returned to the Public Landing by 11:30 am. Please look for signage for boat takeout at the Public Landing.

Shuttle Buses (Morning Shuttle from Sawyer Point to Coney Island)
A shuttle bus from the Sawyer Point Lot to Coney Island will be available from 6:00 am to 8:00 am  for paddlers parking in downtown Cincinnati.  Yellow buses will be located along Mehring Way in front of the Sawyer Point lot. Bus rides are approximately 20 minutes long, so please plan accordingly. All parking spaces at Sawyer Point and surrounding lots are available on a first come basis.

End of Event Shuttle Buses (ride back to Coney Island after paddling event)
Shuttle buses will be lined up at the top of the Public Landing to shuttle paddlers back to their cars at Coney Island. Buses will run from 9:45 am to 1:45 pm. Paddlers must show Paddlefest wristband to ride shuttle bus.

Boat Take Out and Pick Up
Racers and rental boats will take out in front of the Showboat Majestic. All other paddlers will take out boats past the Showboat Majestic. High school volunteers will be available to help you take your boat off the water and into the “boat security” areas. Please make sure you have one of your boat tags on your boat and the other with you to match them up when you pick up your boat. Students will also be available to help load boats onto vehicles if needed. Please follow the signs, parking lot attendants, and police officers instructions when exiting the Public Landing.

Paddler Safety
All paddlers MUST wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket (PFD) at all times when on the Ohio River. Paddlers who do not comply violate the terms of the Ohio River Paddlefest insurance policy and can jeopardize the continuation of the event in the future. It is recommended that each paddler also carry a whistle on your life jacket or in your boat for use in case of an emergency.

Numerous safety boats and safety paddlers will be located along the route to downtown. Many of them will have on yellow or orange vests and signs on their boats, so you can easily locate them should you need help. Powerboats along the way are able to communicate with each other for medical personnel. Please make sure you have complete contact information along with emergency contact information with you in a plastic baggie.

Restrooms & Water
Port-o-lets are located at the put-in areas at Coney Island, midway at the Schmidt Field Pit Stop, and at the top of the Public Landing near buses at the Finish Line Festival. The Schmidt Field Pit Stop will be open from 9:00 am -10:45 am and is a welcome resting spot for all paddlers to fill water bottles, listen to live music and rest.

What to Bring
Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses with a strap, water, cash for food and refreshments, shoes, waterproof camera, and an extra shirt. Please make sure you use sunscreen before you get into your boat and bring plenty of water.

What NOT to bring
No alcohol and drugs, weapons, valuables you cannot afford to lose in the Ohio River.

Gold Star Chili Finish Line Festival at Yeatman’s Cove in downtown Cincinnati
9:30 am to 1:30 pm
Stick around, relax and join us for a variety of food, great beer, exhibits, racer awards and live music. Shuttle buses will be available all day from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm with the last bus departing for Coney Island at 1:45 pm.

How are the proceeds from the Ohio River Paddlefest spent?
Proceeds from the event are used to produce the annual Kids Outdoor Adventure Expo program and to support the outdoor recreation programs of the Green Umbrella, Greater Cincinnati’s Sustainability alliance . Each year, the Kids Expo brings in approximately 5,000 children from all backgrounds to enjoy the largest outdoor environmental education event in the Midwest. Two-thirds of the attendees to the expo are recipients of the reduced lunch programs in their school districts. At the expo children ages 4-14 years old, learn how to paddle in a raft, kayak, wear a life jacket, fish, exercise, eat properly and become future stewards of the environment.

Interested in volunteering? Please go to our Volunteer page on the website and look at available positions, fill out sign up form and waiver. Our volunteer coordinator will then contact you about your position.


Entry fees are non-refundable and cannot be transferred to another year or person. No exceptions. This means once we have received your entry, you will not receive a refund if you cannot participate, or if the event is cancelled because of weather, natural disaster or other unforseen circumstances. 


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Directions from Coney Island to the Public Landing in Cincinnati
Head northwest on Kellogg Avenue toward Anchorage Road, take a slight left at Eastern Avenue. Continue on East Pete Rose Way. Turn left at East Mehring Way. Turn left at Public Landing. Parking is available in the East Garage and at Sawyer Point for around $5.00.

From Dayton, Ohio
Merge onto I-75 South. Take the exit on the left toward I-71 North/US-50 East. Keep right at the fork, follow the signs for I-471 South/I-71 North/US-50 East/Downtown and merge onto I-71 North/US-50 East. Continue to follow US-50 East. Take a slight right at Bains Street. Take a slight left at Eastern Avenue. Continue onto Kellogg Avenue to Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Avenue on your right. Enter through Gate 1.

From Columbus, Ohio
Take I-70 West/I-71 South ramp to Dayton/Cincinnati. Merge onto OH-315 South. Continue on I-71 South. Take exit 9 for Red Bank Rd. toward Fairfax. Merge onto Red Bank Expressway. Continue on Red Bank Road. Turn left onto the US-50 West ramp to Cincinnati; merge onto Columbia Parkway/US 50. Exit on Eastern Avenue/US 50 TRUCK toward OH-32/OH-125/OH-561. Turn left at Carrel Street. Turn left at Kellogg Avenue and continue to Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Avenue on your right. Enter through Gate 1.

From Indianapolis, Indiana
Take Old US-421 South; continue on I-74 East (entering Ohio). Take the exit onto I-75 South/US 52 East toward Lexington; continue to follow I-75 South. Take the exit on the left toward I-71 North/US-50 East. Keep right at the fork; follow signs for I-471 South/I-71 North/US-50 East/Downtown and merge onto I-71 North/US-50 east continue to follow US-50 east. Take a slight right at Bains Street, take a slight left at Eastern Avenue and continue onto Kellogg Avenue to Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Avenue on your right. Enter through Gate 1.

From Louisville, Kentucky
Take 1-64 East to exit 6 to merge onto 1-71 North toward Cincinnati. Take the exit onto I-71 North toward Cincinnati; take the exit onto I-71 North/I-75 North. Take exit 185 to merge onto I-275 East (entering Ohio). Take exit 72 for Kellogg Avenue/US-52 west. Turn left at Kellogg Avenue/US-52. Follow to Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Avenue on your right. Enter through Gate 1.

From Lexington, Kentucky
Take I-64 West/I-75 North via the ramp to Louisville/Cincinnati. Take the exit onto I-75 North toward Georgetown/Cincinnati. Take exit 185 to merge onto I-275 East (entering Ohio). Take exit 72 for Kellogg Avenue/US 52. Follow  to Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Avenue on your right. Enter through Gate 1.